The owner of a California roofing company was sentenced to jail time as a result of a fatality in which an employee fell 38 feet. While a foreman was present on the job site at the time, there were no guardrails, scaffolds or barriers of any kind to protect employees from exposure to fall hazards. The employee was working on the edge of a four-story apartment building when he fell 38 feet to his death. Personal fall arrest equipment was not available or provided and no documented safety policies were in place. Additionally, employees were not trained to recognize the hazards they were exposed to, or to protect themselves from those hazards.
Fines and sentencing The roofing company owner was fined $70, 485 by Cal/OSHA who referred the case to the District Attorney. The company owner was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading guilty to four felonies: involuntary manslaughter, Cal/OSHA willful violation causing death, worker compensation premium fraud, and tax evasion. The foreman was also prosecuted and had to serve six months in jail after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count of violation of state labor code. Both men will also have to pay restitution in association with their convictions.
OSHA requires the use of Personal Fall Arrest Systems or other fall protection equipment such as guardrails to protect workers who are exposed to fall hazards.
Q: Do you think the courts were justified in their decision? Q: What can you do to protect yourself from fall hazards? A willful violation is defined as a violation in which the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement (purposeful disregard) or acted with plain indifference to employee safety. https://www.osha.gov/Publications/fedrites.html