OSHA cites employer after Pennsylvanian roofer fatally electrocuted, others endangered
By Renée Francoeur
March 30, 2015 – Just 72 hours after a worker was fatally electrocuted on a roofing job at a Pennsylvanian home, the employer put a second worker in the same jeopardy, says the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Andrew “CK” Sakala Jr. was killed in September 2014 when the aluminum ladder he was using contacted a 7,200-volt power line. His employer, Kolek Woodshop Inc., sent another worker to finish the job three days later.
OSHA cited Kolek for “willfully exposing the second worker to preventable electrical hazards.” OSHA identified one willful violation because Kolek exposed the second employee to the same hazards after the fatality. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health. The company also failed to report the fatality to OSHA.
“The blatant disregard for worker safety demonstrated is horrifying and completely despicable. This company’s failure to implement basic safeguards resulted in tragedy,” said Christopher Robinson, director of OSHA’s Pittsburgh Area Office. “Kolek’s willingness to expose another person’s life to the same dangers just 72 hours after the first fatality is alarming. Employers must provide a safe and healthful workplace, and OSHA will hold them accountable if they do not.”
OSHA investigators determined that the employer provided workers with a ladder without nonconductive side rails. The ladder then contacted power lines, which resulted in the fatality. They also concluded that the company erected an aluminum scaffold too close to a 7,200-volt power line; exposed workers who were removing shingles to fall hazards; and failed to train employees. These conditions resulted in four alleged serious violations. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Kolek faces penalties of $67,900 and has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.