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Painter Dies Following 50-Foot Fall

Thursday, August 18, 2016

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Investigations are underway to determine what led a painter to fall 50 feet to his death Monday (Aug. 15) while at work on a water tower project.

The painter, identified as Adilson Vozniak, 37, of Newark, was working with a crew to sandblast and paint a municipal water tower located behind Morris Knolls High School in Denville Township, NJ, the Daily Record reported Tuesday (Aug. 16).

Vozniak, an employee of Cherry Hill-based Allied Painting Inc., fell about 40 to 50 feet from the tower around 2:45 p.m., Denville Capt. Paul Nigro told the Parsippany Patch.

white water tower
© / Anthony Seebaran

A painter reportedly fell to his death Monday (Aug. 15) while working with a crew to sandblast and paint a municipal water tower in Denville Township, NJ (not shown).

A coworker reportedly called 911 after Vozniak sustained injuries in the fall. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, sources said.

An employee reached by phone Wednesday (Aug. 17) indicated that the company has no comment at this time.

The incident is under investigation by both Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Denville Police. Authorities are said to be treating it as an accident.

History of Fall-Related Inspections

OSHA has cited Allied Painting on multiple occasions in the past for safety violations that included exposure to falls, noted.

PaintSquare News reported in April 2015 that OSHA alleged the company had exposed workers to 100-foot falls on the Charles M. Braga Jr. Memorial Bridge in Somerset, MA.

That work was performed on a catenary scaffold beneath the bridge, and workers used caged ladders to climb down the scaffold. However, obstructions to access ladders and insufficient heights for temporary railings between ladders and the permanent bridge railing exposed workers to fall hazards of more than 100 feet, OSHA alleged.

Allied Painting had contested the citations and penalties to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission at the time, and the OSHA site shows that the fall violations are still under contest.

An earlier closed case with no listed citations or fines shows the company was inspected on the Braga Bridge project in November 2013 after OSHA received a complaint related to fall protection.

OSHA's records also list a closed Sept. 16, 2013, inspection in Delaware launched by a referral. The inspection came after a painter had been injured in a “short fall” from the Delaware Memorial Bridge while painting the substructure of the Delaware-bound span.

Allied Painting was inspected once in 2011 as well with an emphasis on falls, based on a referral. The initial seven violations (six serious and one other) with $25,200 in penalties were reduced to three violations (two serious and one other) and $5,400 in penalties.

In 2004, an Allied Painting employee fell 15 feet into the Delaware River while working on the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge. The worker was not seriously injured.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Fall protection; Fatalities; Health & Safety; Health and safety; North America; OSHA; Painting Contractors; Tank exteriors; Tanks; Water Tanks

Comment from stephen rauscher, (8/18/2016, 8:39 AM)

Low bid contractors cut to many corners that happened to be safely

Comment from Gail Alario, (8/18/2016, 2:53 PM)

Sad for the loss of life all because of safety. It's importance on all projects should never be taken for granted.

Comment from Mary Beth Martin, (8/18/2016, 4:36 PM)

How do you not hook up a harness to protect yourself when you're up at that kind of height ?

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (8/19/2016, 8:58 AM)

Harnesses are hot, heavy and they slow you down. That's the (unfortunate) attitude I often see.

Comment from Chris Shiffett, (8/20/2016, 1:50 AM)

Prayers go out to all the family and friends. Opinion: Regardless how this investigation is concluded. Based on the previous projects sitations and penalties, you would think one would strive to eliminate the loss of life or limb. Im not one to judge but, there are to many repeatable violations documented on multiple projects at several project sites. The Safety of all personel should be priority #1. To the site foreman and the employee who is putting there life on the line. The Safety Program is NOT being inforced.

Comment from Car F., (8/23/2016, 11:26 AM)

“[cited] on multiple occasions in the past for safety violations that included exposure to falls” Clearly repeated offenders are not deterred by citations and small fines. Crime is rampant in certain industries. Irresponsible contractor must go to jail. Killing a person, by whatever means, is a crime like any murder or manslaughter offense.

Comment from Thomas Van Hooser, (8/29/2016, 8:50 AM)

Incidents like this coupled with previous citations is clear evidence that there is a culture problem with top management. If management is not concerned with safety then it is likely that supervisors and workers will not be. Fall protection for this type of work need carefull planning to include tie off points, resuce, etc. The supervisor who stated that workers cannot wear harness because they restrict motion is also evidence of poor safety culture in this organization. This organization is living in the dark ages and recent events are catching up with them. Time for change in this organization.

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