Ocean Springs contractor facing thousands in fines for ‘preventable’ death

Ocean Springs contractor facing thousands in fines for ‘preventable’ death

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - A South Mississippi contractor is facing more than $58,000 in fines after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined it failed to use fall protection at a job that claimed the life of an employee.

Gerald Moran was doing framing work on a new house on Government Street in Ocean Springs on Nov. 3, 2014, when he lost his balance and fell more than 20 feet. Moran died eight days later from injuries sustained in the fall.

OSHA said Moran's employer, Thomas Matthews Framing LLC, failed to install guard rails on the balcony; guard rails that could have saved the 42-year-old father's life.

"This tragedy could have been prevented had Thomas Matthews Framing done what it knew was right and followed OSHA safety standards," said Eugene Stewart, OSHA's area director in Jackson. "Employers cannot choose when to follow these practices. The lives of their workers depend on it."

After investigating the incident, OSHA cited the company for one willful and two serious violations.

The willful citation was for allowing employees to work at heights greater than 6 feet without guardrails or fall protection.

The two serious citations were issued for not providing guardrails on scaffolding higher than 10 feet above a lower level and not training workers to recognize and prevent fall hazards. OSHA said the company was also in violation for not reporting a fatality within eight hours.

Thomas Matthews Framing has 15 days to comply, meet with OSHA officials or contest the findings. Proposed penalties total $58,700.

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