Region 3 News Release: III-98-10-15-179-MM
Thursday, October 15, 1998
Contact: Kate Dugan, (215) 596-1139
CONSTRUCTION WORKER'S DEATH RESULTS IN JAIL TIME FOR INDIANA EMPLOYER
Roy G. Stoops, owner of C&S Erectors, Inc. of Noblesville, Ind., was sentenced to four months in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to willfully violating occupational safety and health standards which led to the death of an employee.
The case stems from a May 1, 1996, incident in which Brian Smith, 32, of Greenwood, Ind., an employee of C&S Erectors, fell to his death while laying steel decking on a roof approximately 35 feet above the ground at a site in Jonestown, Pa. After an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the case was referred to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.
"The sentence handed down in this case carries a strong and clear message that unsafe and unhealthy working conditions will not be tolerated in this country," said Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman. "An employee of C&S Erectors died because his employer willfully violated the law. No one should have to sacrifice his life to earn his livelihood."
Judge J. Andrew Smyser of the U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, Pa., ordered Stoops to pay $6,000 in restitution to Smith's estate to cover funeral expenses. Stoops will be on a one-year supervised release program. C&S Erectors, Inc. was also sentenced to one year of probation and was held jointly liable for the restitution.
"The fact that the court sentenced Mr. Stoops to prison demonstrates how egregious his actions were," said Charles N. Jeffress, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Let this be a warning to employers who flaunt the law that when warranted OSHA will seek criminal penalties for willful violations."
According to OSHA records, C&S Erectors engaged in several unsafe practices at the Jonestown worksite, and prior to Smith's accident the project's general contractor warned Stoops and the company several times about hazards, including the failure to provide fall protection. The company had a substantial history of OSHA violations.
OSHA's investigation resulted in citations being issued against the company in October 1996 for willful, egregious violations of safety and health standards, with proposed penalties totaling $396,200. The citations were appealed to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, which has stayed this case pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.
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