What makes OSHA go directly after company owners and executives? Lying to the agency is definitely one reason.
We’ve noted it before: The difference between facing civil OSHA penalties and criminal charges against company owners or executives is often an accusation of lying about the events surrounding employee injuries or death.
That’s the situation once again in the case against Robert Riley, owner of RSR Home Construction in Bernardsville, NJ. Riley is charged with lying to OSHA during two investigations in which his employees were injured on a construction project.
RSR was the general contractor for repairs to a horse stable in Long Valley, NJ. In May 2018, a construction worker fell through a skylight located on the stable’s roof and suffered serious injuries. OSHA investigated.
Two months later, a second construction worker fell through the skylight of the horse stable and was seriously injnured. Again, OSHA sent an inspector.
In October 2018, OSHA took the sworn deposition of Riley and asked him whether on May 2, 2018, he had directed a construction worker to perform repairs on the roof of the horse stable or to direct others to do so. Riley said he hadn’t.
According to documents filed in the case, Riley sent several text messages to the construction worker, telling him to direct others to perform roof repairs on the stable. Specifically, one text reads, “OK They can get on the roof now.” The next day, a construction worker fell through the skylight.
OSHA also asked Riley whether he’d known construction workers would be on the roof of the horse stable on July 12, 2018. Riley said he didn’t.
Investigators say on the morning of July 12, 2018, Riley sent several text messages to a construction worker, directing him or others to repair the roof. One text said, “I would like to start removing the broken skylight. We have to replace it. Let’s see how to remove it.” That afternoon, the second construction worker fell through the skylight.
Riley is charged with one count of perjury which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.