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Tillman & Associates, Attorneys at Law

Lying to investigators leads to criminal penalties for contractor

As our readers know, when an accident occurs on a work site, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sends inspectors to investigate the incident, determine the cause and if necessary, cite contractors and others as necessary for safety violations. It's essential to these investigations that employers and others who are interviewed tell the truth. If they don't, there may be criminal penalties.

One steel and roofing contractor has learned that lesson the hard way. Earlier this year, he was charged with lying to OSHA inspectors and pleaded guilty. He has now been sentenced to supervised probation for three years. He will also be doing community service for 30 hours. He is also paying $55,000 for six safety violations. After initially contesting OSHA's findings, he agreed to that penalty.

The incident that led to the investigation occurred in March 2013 when a storm hit a work site in Alabama. Three men fell off a metal roof on which they were working. One worker suffered multiple broken bones and another lost an arm when he hit the edge of the roof. The third suffered a shoulder injury.

The contractor told OSHA inspectors that the men had been tied to the roof with the appropriate equipment when the accident occurred. Workers are supposed to have fall protection equipment any time they are working 30 feet above ground and six feet or less from an open edge. However, OSHA discovered that the contractor didn't purchase the equipment until after the accident.

Some of the safety violations with which the contractor was cited involved the weather conditions at his work site that day. These included not properly securing the metal decking and allowing the workers to be out in the storm. He was also cited for not notifying the federal safety agency that workers were hospitalized.

For Georgia workers whose employment involves doing strenuous labor, serious injuries can have a significant impact on your career and possibly mean the end of it. That's why it's essential to seek workers' compensation benefits that will help you support yourself and your family while you get medical treatment, rehabilitation and possibly job retraining for another occupation. While minor workers' comp claims may not require legal guidance, when you're looking at long-term or possibly permanent disability, it's essential to have that guidance.

Source: The USGlass News Network, "Contractor Sentenced for False Statements Regarding Injured Worker Incident," Nick St. Denis, Aug. 25, 2015

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