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Stucco Contractor Liable in Fatal Fall

Thursday, March 20, 2014

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Federal safety authorities are holding a Georgia masonry contractor responsible for a 19-foot fall that claimed the life of an employee last September.

The 42-year-old worker fell from some scaffolding while applying stucco to a building being renovated as a college dormitory for East Georgia State College in Swainsboro, GA. 

E GA State College Housing
East Georgia State College

The accident occurred during the renovation of student housing at East Georgia State College.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Jack Smiley, dba Smiley Plaster Co., for five safety violations, including one willful, after its inspection into the Sept. 20 fatality. Proposed penalties total $57,000. 

Smiley Plaster is a stucco and masonry construction company in Twin City, GA. The company could not be reached Wednesday (March 19) for comment. The phone number had been disconnected.

No Fall Protection

The willful violation—OSHA's highest level of infraction—alleges failure to provide fall protection to employees working from scaffolding at heights over 10 feet. 

Three serious violations allege failure to:

  • Provide adequate scaffolding foundation;
  • Brace the scaffolding; and
  • Provide debris protection, such as toe boards, for employees working on scaffolding.

A serious violation reflects substantial probability of death or serious injury from a hazard the employer knew, or should have known, about. 

One other-than-serious violation was cited for failing to report the fatality within eight hours of the incident.

Severe Violator

The willful violation has landed the company in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses enforcement efforts on employers that have "demonstrated indifference to their legal obligations by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations."

OSHA Fall Prevention
Angelo Garcia III / OSHA

More than one-third of all construction-related deaths in 2012 were caused by falls, OSHA said.

"A worker died after the employer knowingly failed to provide a properly built scaffold system to protect employees from fall hazards," said Robert Vazzi, OSHA's area director in Savannah. 

No information about Smiley Plaster was available Wednesday; OSHA records show no prior inspections of, or violations by, the company.

The Toll of Falls

According to OSHA, there were 269 fall-related fatalities in 2012 out of the 775 deaths that were construction-related.

OSHA, along with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, developed a Fall Prevention Campaign to provide employers and workers with information and educational materials about working safely from ladders, scaffolds and roofs. 

The company has 15 days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Commercial contractors; Fall protection; Fatalities; Masonry; OSHA; Schools; Stucco

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