Harrisburg, PA (WorkersCompensation.com) - The United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Susquehanna Supply Company, Inc., of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, was charged in a criminal information of willfully committing an OSHA violation that resulted in an employee's death.
According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, the information alleges that Susquehanna Supply Company's primary business is bridge rehabilitation, and that in December 2014, the company contracted with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to rehabilitate a bridge near Eyers Grove in Columbia County.
The rehabilitation project began in June 2015, and it involved digging large trenches at each end of the bridge. Under regulations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), an employee working in a trench must be protected from cave-ins by an adequate protective system, such as sloped walls. Cave-ins represent the greatest danger during a trenching operation and are more likely than other trenching-related accidents to result in worker fatalities.
On July 7, 2015, a Susquehanna Supply Company employee entered a trench at one end of the bridge to remove additional soil. The trench was approximately twelve feet deep. Although Susquehanna Supply Company was aware of the applicable OSHA regulations, the company had not implemented a protective system in the trench. While the employee was working, one of the trench's vertical dirt walls collapsed, burying the employee up to his chest and crushing him against the bridge's concrete abutment. The collapse caused massive trauma to the employee's upper body and killed him almost instantly.
The case was investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlo D. Marchioli.
Criminal informations are only allegations. A charged entity is presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The maximum penalty under federal law for this offense is a $500,000 fine and a term of probation. Under federal law, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant and protect the public. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.
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