The electrocution death of a worker could send the owner of a painting business to prison.
The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Pennsylvania has filed one criminal charge against Thomas Caruso, 77, owner of Modern Painting & Decorating of New Kensington, PA. Caruso is charged with willful violation of safety regulations that caused the electrocution of an employee.
The charge comes with maximum penalties of six months in prison, a $250,000 fine and one year of supervised release.
On April 7, 2010, Paul Thompson, 48, came in contact with a power line while working on a roof and painting the outside of a building in New Kensington.
Thompson was using a plastic pole that had an aluminum pole on the inside with a metal roller on the end. The paint roller or pole contacted the high voltage line.
The employee was taken to a local hospital, but he couldn’t be revived.
OSHA issued a willful violation to Modern Painting for allowing employees to work near energized power circuits. The company was also hit with two serious violations for not providing adequate fall protection and not training employees in recognizing and avoiding fall hazards.
The fines totaled $57,400 which the company paid.
“The employer was aware of the existence and proximity of the overhead power lines, as well as the danger they posed to employees, yet took no action to ensure worker safety,” said Robert Szymanski, director of OSHA’s Pittsburgh, PA, office.
OSHA regulations say employers should “not permit an employee to work in close proximity to any part of an electric power circuit unless the employee is protected against electric shock by de-energizing and grounding the circuit or by insulating it.”
Doesn’t happen often
Criminal prosecution for violating OSHA regulations are rare. From 2007 through 2010, the Department of Justice acted on just 49 criminal referrals from OSHA.
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