Safety + Health Magazine – A fatality occurred last June when a worker fell 45 feet from a Philadelphia church roof while working on repairs. During the OSHA investigation, the owner of the roofing company lied to investigators as to whether or not he supplied fall protection to his crew. Furthermore, the owner directed other workers to lie about onsite fall protection in order to defend his claim. The owner, as a result of his attempts to thwart investigators, and for failing to provide basic fall protection and safety gear to his employees, was indicted on four counts of making false statements, one count of obstruction of justice and one count of violating the Scaffolds Standard. He now faces up to 25 years in prison, according to the Department of Justice. The owner of the company pleased guilty to the charges last December and is scheduled for sentencing on March 29th of this year.
“When employers blatantly and willfully ignore worker safety and health responsibilities, resulting in death or serious injury to workers or lie to or obstruct OSHA investigators, we will pursue enforcement to the fullest extent of the law” – David Michaels, OSHA Administrator
This case is a rare example of a criminal conviction for a worker safety violation. It was a willful violation of an OSHA regulation directly connected with a fatality. Lying to investigators simply exasperated the issues at hand. With the new memorandum allowing the Department of Justice to pursue criminal investigations into OSHA violations, these cases are expected to become more frequent. Owners, superintendents and managers are being held to a greater degree of responsibility in regards to work related injuries and fatalities, making it ever more critical to ensure proper risk management.
Falls account for the greatest number of work related injuries and fatalities in the business. OSHA mandated fall protection must be used on all job sites where employees are working at any regulated height. In addition to the essential gear, employee training and the clear understanding of safe practices are essential. Simply providing fall protection fails to ensure employee safety. Knowledge coupled with the proper tools help create a safety-minded work force, mitigating your risk and lowering the potential for hazards.
For more information on fall protection, or to schedule a training, feel free to contact The Integrated Group at 425-822-8500 of firstname.lastname@example.org.