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OSHA Investigating Middle School Incident
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            One day after a Pottstown man working to construct Upper Perkiomen's new middle school in Upper Hanover fell from a scaffold, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an investigation into the incident.

            Officials from the federal agency's Allentown office have a total of six months to conduct an investigation of the incident and release its findings, according to Lenore Uddyback-Fortson, who works in the office of public affairs for the U.S. Department of Labor.

            Gary Juck, 61, fell from scaffolding at approximately noon on Jan. 8 at the construction site located at 901 Montgomery Ave., according to a statement from Scott M. Grim, the Lehigh County Coroner. Juck was pronounced dead at 1:22 p.m. on Jan. 29 at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest. OSHA officials learned of his death the same day, according to Uddyback-Fortson.

            He was cleaning bricks in front of the building with another worker, according to Thomas J. Baker, the chief financial officer and controller for Boro Construction, the project's general contractor. Juck, a 14-year employee of Boro, worked in the company's masonry division, according to Baker.

            Eric Minnich, a spokesperson for Grim, did not return an email seeking an update on Juck's autopsy results. Superintendent Alexis McGloin referred all questions on the investigation to Bruce Shapiro, the project manager from Boro Construction. Shapiro did not return an email message seeking comment.

            A Gofundme page started Jan. 9 by a family member claims that Junk "fell from a scaffold 30-ft. high," and that "he has a shattered diaphragm, collapsed lung, internal bleeding and multiple broken bones."

            OSHA began an inspection with Boro Developers, Inc., on Jan. 9, according to Uddyback-Fortson. She declined to comment further on the investigation. An inspection detail posted on the agency's website lists the scope of the inspection as partial and the case status as open.

            An OSHA fact sheet states that when an inspector finds violations of federal standards or serious hazards, it may issue citations and fines within six months of the violation's occurrence that describes the federal requirements allegedly violated, list any proposed penalties, and gives a deadline for correcting the alleged hazards. Violations are categorized as willful, serious, other-than-serious, de minimis, failure to abate, and repeated.

            In settling a penalty, OSHA has a policy of reducing penalties for small employers and those acting in good faith. For serious violations, OSHA may also reduce the proposed penalty based on the gravity of the alleged violation. No good faith adjustment will be made for alleged willful violations, according to the facts.

            According to Uddyback-Fortson, the agency does not have jurisdiction of state or municipal employers or workers. "The only employer we would be looking at is the contractor," she said Monday afternoon.





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