Calling the situation “blatant disregard for worker safety,” OSHA has fined an out-of-business roofing contractor in connection with an electrocution last year.
OSHA issued one willful and four serious violations to Kolek Woodshop Inc. of Creighton, PA, following an investigation triggered by the death of roofer Andrew Sakala Jr. The violations total $67,900 in fines.
Sakala died on Sept. 12, 2014, while on a roofing job in Tarentum, PA. The aluminum ladder he was using touched a 7,200-volt power line. The ladder didn’t have nonconductive side rails.
OSHA says three days later, the company sent another worker to finish the job, “exposing him to the same hazardous conditions that led to Sakala’s death,” according to a press release from the agency.
Kolek was cited for:
- exposing the second worker to preventable electrical hazards (willful)
- failing to train employees (serious)
- erecting an aluminum scaffold too close to a 7,200-volt power line (serious), and
- exposing roofing workers who were removing shingles to fall hazards (serious).
OSHA says the company also failed to report the fatality, something that employers are required to do within eight hours.
After receiving OSHA fines, businesses can pay them, request an informal conference with OSHA or contest them to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Owner John Kolek told the Associated Press he hopes to challenge all or some of the proposed fines. A meeting was scheduled with OSHA.
Kolek has since shut down the business, not because of the death, but because he’s 79.
The AP quotes Kolek as saying the worker was at fault. He also said he believes the fines are excessive both because of the nature of the violation and the small size of his former business.
“Kolek’s willingness to expose another person’s life to the same dangers just 72 hours after the first fatality is alarming,” said Christopher Robinson, director of OSHA’s Pittsburgh area office.