Jack Smiley of Smiley Plaster Co. can attest that ignorance, or the appearance thereof, is not necessarily bliss.
In September 2013, a 42-year-old worker fell to his death while applying stucco to a pre-existing building on the campus of East Georgia State in Swainsboro. After conducting a thorough investigation of the fatality, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration found that Jack Smiley, the owner of Smiley Plaster Co., essentially signed his employee’s death warrant by knowingly failing to provide a properly constructed scaffold system.
And that’s not all. Not only did Smiley fail to provide safely constructed scaffolding, he was also cited for failing to brace the scaffolding and provide protective measures such as toe boards. These willful violations were enough to place Smiley Plaster Co. into OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which keeps a close eye on employers who have demonstrated blatant indifference to the safety of their employees.
To add insult to injury, Smiley was cited with one “other-than-serious” violation: he failed to report the fatality within eight hours on the incident. (One would think that this kind of blind disregard would have a category of its own.)
All told, Smiley Plaster Co. is facing a total of $57,000 possible fines in OSHA penalties. While some may call this justice, we have to wonder if this is an accurate representation of the value of a human life. While money is a great motivator, it seems unlikely that anyone who waited over eight hours to report the death of an employee is willing to change his ways.
We urge employees in Georgia to carefully evaluate the safety of their work environment. If you notice that an employer has failed to comply with basic safety regulations, report the violation to your supervisor immediately. If the proper safety measure continue to go unfulfilled, start looking for employment at a company that values your well-being.
If you or a loved one has been injured at the workplace, call Atlanta workers’ comp attorney Michael Moebes at (404) 354-5432.