OSHA has been referring more cases for criminal prosecution. Three recent cases show what types of charges that owners, managers and companies face.
Owner charged in tree trimmer’s death
Later this month, a hearing will continue for a company’s owner, CFO and COO in the death of a tree trimmer.
Joshua Pudsey, 42, an employee of Three Frogs Inc. of La Mesa, CA, was operating an 80-foot aerial lift when a 25-foot branch from a 60-foot eucalyptus tree fell and killed him on Nov. 12, 2013.
Cal/OSHA issued 13 citations to Three Frogs with a total of $91,865 in fines. Cal/OSHA said the men working on the eucalyptus tree weren’t trained to use the aerial lift and weren’t provided eye or fall protection.
Three Frogs’ owner, David Scott Wolfe, faces 6.5 years in prison and more than $1 million in criminal fines in connection with charges of unemployment insurance fraud, failure to have workers’ compensation insurance and the safety offenses.
The company was ordered to stop working.
Manslaughter indictment in trench death
A grand jury has indicted a Freemont, CA, contractor, its owner and project manager on involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of a worker in a trench collapse.
Raul Zapata Mercado, 38, was killed by the collapse of a 12-foot dirt wall on a property in Milpitas, CA.
Three days before Mercado’s death, a city building inspector issued a stop work order to U.S. Sino Investment because of the danger of a cave-in. The work didn’t stop, according to authorities.
An arrest warrant has been issued for the company’s owner, Richard Liu, who is believed to be in China.
The maximum sentence for involuntary manslaughter is three years in prison. U.S. Sino faces a fine of up to $1.5 million for Labor Code violations.
Convicted of falsifying safety records
A coal miner who said he was qualified to perform mine safety exams has been sentenced in federal court.
Sean Chase was sentenced to two years of supervised release after he was convicted earlier this year of making false representations and certifications on mine safety records, and making false statements to a federal agent.
While employed at Tunnel Ridge Mine in West Virginia, Chase claimed he took the mine foreman exam and was issued a foreman card and number.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) says it will hold examiners responsible when they falsify records and attempt to mislead investigators.