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Holland Man Charged in Death of Employee at Sparta Worksite

by
Joe Novak (photo courtesy Kent Co. Sheriff's Dept.)
Joe Novak (photo courtesy Kent Co. Sheriff's Dept.)

GRAND RAPIDS TWP., MI (WHTC) - A 40-year-old Holland man is being held responsible for the death of one of his subcontracted employees.

That’s the gist of an indictment filed by the state Attorney General’s office against Joe Novak, who is the president and owner of Black River Builders in Sparta. His company has reportedly been inspected by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration nine times since 2007 and was cited for several serious violations since then.

On July 2, 2012, worker Brian Tarachanowicz was killed after falling more than 26 feet onto a concrete floor while repairing the roof of the Federal-Mogul building in Sparta. An investigation found that the 38-year-old Howard City man was not wearing safety equipment when he went through a weak spot in the roof, and that no such fall protection gear was used by he and other workers at the time of the incident.

On the basis of the investigation’s findings, Attorney General Bill Schuette sought a warrant for Novak’s arrest on one felony MIOSHA Violation Causing Death count; the accused surrendered to authorities, was arraigned in Grand Rapids Township District Court this morning, and is free on bond. If convicted, Novak could face up to a year in prison. Through his attorney, he has refused comment on the incident or the felony charge.

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