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Rare OSHA Criminal Prosecution Nets Guilty Verdict

A federal jury returned a guilty verdict in a rare Occupational Safety and Health Act (“OSHA”)criminal prosecution, finding an electrical contractor liable for the 1999 electrocution death of a novice lineman. Federal prosecutors accused the company, L.E. Myers, of willfully violating five OSHA provisions. The contractor faces a maximum penalty of five years probation and a fine of up to $500,000.

The lineman was killed on his second day of employment. He was directed to inspect a steel transmission tower owned by Commonwealth Edison Co. in Mount Prospect, Illinois. There was an energized line at the top of the tower. When he contacted the line he was killed instantly. L.E. Myers was convicted of violating regulations requiring employers to make determinations about job conditions, conduct pre-job briefings, prevent workers from coming too close to energized lines, and train workers with respect to safety risks.

While criminal prosecutions under OSHA are extremely rare, U.S. Attorney Eric Sussman opined that the verdict demonstrates the government is serious about enforcing federal workplace safety standards. He warned employers to abide by OSHA regulations because the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor will be looking at violations more carefully and are going to aggressively enforce the safety standards in the workplace.

Every employer must review their policies to ensure compliance with OSHA standards. Violations of OSHA can lead to more than just monetary penalties. In this case, the violations led to the death of an employee, criminal prosecution, fines and other penalties.

Brody and Associates regularly counsels its clients on issues such as these. For additional articles on OSHA, click here. Should you have any questions, or require any help in keeping abreast of these laws, please contact us at (203) 965-0560 or at info@brodyandassociates.com.