A construction-site superintendent who misled OSHA during a 2009 investigation of a worker’s fatal fall in North Strabane, Pa., received six months home detention and three years of probation under federal court sentence handed out last week.
Robert Christopher Kennedy, 60, of Rapid City, S.D., pleaded guilty to willful violation of an OSHA regulation that led to the Aug. 15, 2009, death of Carl Beck, 29, of Butler, Pa.
Court documents indicated that Beck, a roofer employed by Christopher Franc d/b/a C.A. Franc Construction Company (Valencia, Pa.), fell to his death from a pitched roof 40 feet off the ground, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Pennsylvania, said in a news release. Franc previously received a similar sentence for failing to ensure workers on the job used proper safety equipment.
Kennedy was employed by Hospitality Builders Inc. (Aberdeen, S.D.), the general contractor that hired C.A. Franc to install the roof. OSHA fined Hospitality Builders $70,000 for failing to ensure C.A. Franc workers had fall protection.
The court found that Kennedy, as job superintendent at the site, was considered an “employer” within the meaning of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and was thus responsible for enforcing the safety regulations of the Act.
He “intentionally” disregarded the OSHA safety regulations that required employees to be protected with anchored safety lines attached to harnesses, prosecutors said.
Franc was also on the roof with Beck and was “equally responsible” for ensuring that the workers used the proper safety equipment, prosecutors said. Franc’s failure to do so led to his previous prosecution and guilty plea for the same offense. In June 2011, the federal court sentenced him to three years of probation, including six months of home detention and ordered him to pay Beck’s funeral expenses.
OSHA also fined Franc $539,000 for the violation. (See OSHA release).
In a conversation after the fatal fall on Saturday morning (Aug. 15, 2009), Franc said Kennedy told him to put fall protection on the roof so it would look like it was there before Beck’s fatal accident, prosecutors said.
When the OSHA investigator arrived early Monday morning (Aug. 17, 2009) to interview Kennedy about the death, Kennedy misled him to believe that fall protection was properly secured to the roof before the accident occurred by using pictures of the roof taken after the fall protection was put up, prosecutors said.
OSHA and the FBI conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Kennedy.
More information on fall hazards and safeguards: OSHA.