The Truth Will Set (And Keep You) Free - Making False Statements to an OSHA Inspector Can Result in Criminal Charges

Miller & Martin PLLC Alerts | October 22, 2015


by Mike Mallen

On April 6, 2015, the United States Department of Justice charged a roofing contractor doing business in Alabama with making false statements and lying to OSHA inspectors in connection with an incident investigation at one of the contractor's Alabama worksites.

In 2013, while the contractor was working on a roofing project, three employees sustained serious injuries including an arm amputation, a shoulder injury and broken bones. None of the injured workers had been provided with fall protection equipment.

When OSHA inspectors investigated the accident scene, the contractor told an OSHA inspector that he had been present on the job site on the day of the accident and that he had provided the workers with fall protection equipment approximately five days prior to the accident. The contractor also told the OSHA inspector that the employees were "tied off," when, in fact, they were not.

In addition to citing the contractor with six (6) OSHA violations and a fine of $55,000, OSHA asked the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute the contractor for making false statements in connection with the investigation. The contractor had not obtained and provided fall protection equipment to employees until five days after the accident, coincidentally the same day that the OSHA inspectors initiated their investigation.

The contractor was personally charged and pled guilty to one count of making false statements to an OSHA inspector. He was sentenced to three years of supervised probation and thirty hours of community service.

The lesson here is very simple. You must be truthful when you respond to questions asked by an OSHA investigator. It is also advisable and recommended that you have legal counsel present when investigation questioning is taking place. Miller & Martin routinely represents employers in these kinds of situations.

Please contact Mike Mallen or any other member of our Workplace Environmental, Health & Safety Practice Group should you have any further questions in this area.