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Construction foreman, owner charged with manslaughter in worker's death

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The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health's investigation of a carpenter's fatal fall has resulted in manslaughter charges against his employer and foreman, the California Department of Industrial Relations said.

Jose Plancarte fell more than 18 feet while attempting to lower a window frame opening in the main stairwell of a San Francisco residential construction site for Versaggi Construction on Dec. 26, 2012, the department said in a Friday statement. Mr. Plancarte, who wasn't wearing fall protection, died at the hospital from his injuries.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health's investigation determined that Versaggi Construction failed to provide fall protection training to its workers, and that foreman Jim Fitt knew Mr. Plancarte's scaffolding violated the employer's own safety program, according to the statement.

Versaggi Construction owner Salvador William Versaggi and Mr. Fitt pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to manslaughter charges by the San Francisco District Attorney, and to two counts of violation of the labor code, the statement says.

“When preventable deaths occur, employers must be held accountable,” Juliann Sum, chief of Cal/OSHA, said in the statement. “The indictments today are a testament to the close working relationship between Cal/OSHA and the San Francisco District Attorney and our commitment to ensure that criminal behavior in the workplace is addressed.”