Construction employers are legally responsible for following and enforcing safety regulations on their jobsites. If caught not abiding by these rules and failing to keep workers safe, an OSHA violation and fine can follow. Recently, however, several contractors are also facing criminal charges following employee deaths on their jobsites.
The most recent example of this comes from Akron, OH, as the owner of a construction company was sentenced to 3 years in prison following a 2017 employee death. That employee was only on his second day on the job when he fell off the roof of a 3-story building and later succumbed to his injuries. Gerardo “Jerry” Juarez, the worker who died, had 5 children.
After the fatality, an investigation determined that the contractor failed to train his employees on fall protection safety and failed to provide fall protection devices.
According to the November 2017 SOAH investigation of the site, the contractor was cited for 2 Serious violations and 1 Willful, totaling $142,270. The investigation summary reads:
“At 8:00 a.m. on November 4, 2017, an employee was sitting on a bundle of shingles preparing for roof work to be performed. The 38 year old male employee was working alongside 2 to 3 other employees on the roof of the apartment complex. The employee, who was not utilizing a personal fall arrest system, slipped on the damp cedar roof, slid to the edge, rolled over a jack board, and fell 25 feet to the ground below. None of the employees were utilizing fall protection. Prior to working on the roof the employee had not received training on fall hazards.”
The Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation also stated that the owner failed to have worker’s compensation coverage, causing even more legal problems.
According to the Akron Beacon Journal, the company owner plead guilty to two felonies: involuntary manslaughter and worker’s compensation fraud. He faced a maximum prison sentence of up to 4.5 years, but ultimately received 3.
On top of the prison sentence, the owner will also be required to pay $303,152 to the worker’s compensation bureau as restitution.
As mentioned above, this is not the first time that a company owner has faced a prison sentence after a jobsite employee death. Just recently, a Colorado construction company owner was charged with manslaughter, a class 4 felony, after a 2018 trench collapse killed one of his employees.
Full story: Akron construction company owner sentenced to 3 years in prison for employee’s death in a fall | Akron Beacon Journal