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Contractor cited after worker killed in scaffold fall


A Wisconsin installer of warehouse distribution systems has been cited and is facing $121,800 in proposed penalties from federal workplace safety regulators after a 27-year-old employee fell to his death.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s investigation into the December 2015 incident determined that Pewaukee, Wisconsin-based Reich Installation Services Inc. failed to have a competent person inspect the rail supporting of a scaffold system almost 80 feet above the ground for visible defects, according to an agency news release issued Wednesday.

Leonardo De Jesus and a co-worker were working on a scaffold at a Forest Park, Georgia, project when the rollers supporting the scaffold came off the rail, causing the scaffold to fall about 40 feet to the ground, according to OSHA. Although both men wore fall protection, Mr. De Jesus went off the rail and fell from a height of four stories to his death. His co-worker was rescued with minor injuries.

OSHA issued two willful citations for failing to have a competent person inspect for visible defects and for exceeding the scaffold’s maximum intended load. The agency also issued two serious citations for the employer’s failure to ensure employees operating a swing-stage scaffold were trained by a competent person to recognize hazards and for not ensuring the anchor points used for fall protection were capable of supporting 5,000 pounds.

“Reich Installation’s disregard for the scaffold’s installation specifications and the lack of an inspection, after encountering problems, caused this preventable death,” Keith Hass, OSHA’s acting director of the Atlanta-West office, said in a statement. “Reich management was advised by a third party of proper scaffold methods and should not have put these workers at risk.”

Reich has received and is reviewing the OSHA citations, according to a company statement.

“We remain deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague and continue to express our sincerest sympathies to his family,” the company said in the statement. “(Reich) has a long-standing commitment to the safety and health of the men and women who work for the company. Safety is paramount at (Reich) and has been and will continue to be something that the company takes very seriously. Although (Reich) denies any wrongdoing or safety violations, we have worked cooperatively with OSHA throughout the investigation and will continue to do so going forward.”

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