Company owner, foreman charged in worker’s death

The owner of a contracting firm and a foreman face manslaughter charges in connection with the 2012 falling death of a carpenter on a San Francisco construction site, the California Department of Industrial Relations said today.

Salvador William Versaggi, owner of the Sonoma-based Versaggi Construction, and foreman John Pitt pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to manslaughter charges and labor code violations, according to Cal/OSHA.

They were charged by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office after Cal/OSHA turned over the results of its investigation into the Dec. 26, 2012 death of Jose Plancarte.

Plancarte, a 51-year-old East Palo Alto resident, fell from a scaffolding while working in an unfinished stairwell on a three-story home at 40 Edgehill Way, according to fire and Cal/OSHA officials.

Plancarte, who was assigned to lower a window frame in the stairwell, had built a prohibited type of scaffolding to access the window more than 18 feet above the ground, according to Cal/OSHA.

He was found unconscious on a concrete floor at the base of the stairwell, and died of his injuries later in the day at San Francisco General Hospital.

An investigation found that Versaggi Construction had failed to provide fall protection training to workers and that Fitt was aware Plancarte was using an unsafe scaffolding, according to Cal/OSHA officials.

In a statement today, District Attorney George Gascon said “Employers in California are required to provide the necessary protections for their workers in order to prevent a tragedy such as this.”