Construction Co. Owner Faces Felony Safety Violation After Employee’s Fatal Fall

courtKENT COUNTY, Mich. (April 30, 2014) — The office of Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed a felony charge against a West Michigan construction company owner.

Paul Novak, 40, of Holland is facing one count of a Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (MIOSHA) violation causing death, a one-year felony.

That charge was filed Wednesday in Kent County Circuit Court in connection with the 2012 death of an employee at Black River Builders, his company in Sparta.

Brian Tarachanowicz, 38, fell more than 26 feet to his death while removing an old roof deck at Federal-Mogul Corporation in Sparta on July 2, 2012.  He fell through a weak spot in the roof onto concrete and was not wearing safety equipment, according to a release.

“Business owners have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees,” Schuette said in a release. “When tragedy strikes and a life is lost over carelessness in the workplace, we will hold employers accountable.

Novak is the owner of Black River Builders in Sparta.

An MIOSHA investigation concluded that Tarachanowicz and others were not using fall protection equipment.  That investigation also determined that there was no engineering survey or daily inspections conducted to detect hazards and unsafe conditions.

There was also no inspection of the wooden deck working surface, according to a release.

MIOSHA has inspected Black River nine times since 2007 and cited them with several violations, including a 2008 violation for lack of fall protection gear.  The company was issued four additional citations after Tarachanowicz’s death.

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