'Needless Death' at Church Construction Site Results in Citations

OSHA has cited Hartley Construction Co. of Gainesville, Ga., for one willful and two serious safety violations carrying $54,950 in proposed penalties following a fatality at a church construction site in Ellijay, Ga., in August 2007. The agency said $49,000 of the proposed total fine was for the company's not properly bracing the building's roof trusses, a willful violation because the site superintendent knew the proper procedures but was focused on saving time. The fatality occurred when the trusses collapsed, causing one employee to fall to his death.

"This needless death occurred because the contractor put speed ahead of safety," said Gei-Thae Breezley, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office.

Citations for two serious citations, with proposed penalties totaling $5,950, also have been issued against the company for not providing fall protection to its employees and storing roof trusses on the ground, exposing the material to moisture that could compromise its structural integrity.

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to contest them and the proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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