Contractor arraigned in workplace death

Joe Novak

GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan contractor charged in a Sparta workplace death was arraigned Wednesday morning in Grand Rapids Township.

Joe Novak, who is the owner of Black River Builders, has been charged with a Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety violation causing death.

During his arraignment, Novak stood with his attorney as his not guilty plea was entered before the judge.

Novak is accused of failing to provide the use of fall safety equipment, a felony charge that carries a penalty of one year in prison or a $10,000 fine if convicted.

In 2012, Black River Builders workers were removing a roof deck at the Federal Mogul plant in Sparta when a worker stepped on a weak piece of roof decking and fell 26 feet to his death.

The state says none of the workers were wearing the required protective equipment.

Novak is expected back in court on June 30.

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