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April 04, 2016

OSHA cites Athens contractor after fall through skylight kills worker
Martin Mechanical Contractors failed to provide proper safety protections

ATHENS, Ga. - The life of a 39-year-old HVAC installer who fell through a roof skylight ended suddenly because his employer failed to put proper workplace protections in place, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found.

On Nov. 30, 2015, Timothy O'Neal Gearing and a co-worker were atop a building trying to unjam a saw stuck in its metal roof. When the saw jerked loose, Gearing lost his balance and fell through an unguarded skylight to the concrete ground about 15 feet below. Taken to a nearby hospital, he died later of his injuries.

OSHA issued Martin Mechanical Contractors Inc. of Athens one willful and one other-than-serious safety citation on March 24, after the agency investigated Gearing's death. The incident occurred at the site of a new Subaru car dealership in Athens.

"This tragedy was preventable. Martin Mechanical Contractors knowingly exposed its workers to dangerous fall hazards and failed to take action to protect them," William Fulcher, OSHA's area director in the Atlanta-East Office. "Employers are responsible for either addressing workplace hazards or not putting workers at risk of being injured or killed. Our investigation found Gearing's employer did neither."

The agency issued a willful citation to Martin Mechanical for failing to protect workers from tripping or falling into an unguarded sky light. The other violation relates to not reporting a fatality to OSHA within eight hours.

Proposed penalties total $54,000. View citations here:*

Martin Mechanical is a mechanical, plumbing and electrical contractor for commercial and industrial building projects in Northeast Georgia. Another Athens company, Driver Construction Co. Inc. subcontracted with Martin to install a complete HVAC system at the worksite when the fatality happened.

Martin Mechanical has no previous OSHA inspection history. The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint; or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Atlanta-East Area Office at 770-493-6644.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

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Media Contacts:

Michael D'Aquino, 678-237-0630, d'
Lindsay Williams, 678-237-0630,

Release Number: 16-531-ATL (84)

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