Cal/OSHA Referral To Sonoma DA Results In Prosecution And Fines

Santa Rosa, CA (CompNewsNetwork) - A referral made by California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health—better known as Cal/OSHA, to the Sonoma County District Attorney of a Santa Rosa roofing company for violations of state safety regulations leading to the death of one roofer and the permanent disability of another has resulted in a conviction of two felony counts for violating State worker safety laws.

"I am pleased that the District Attorney has taken this Cal/OSHA referral and prosecuted to the full extent of the law," said Cal/OSHA Chief Len Welsh. "Cal/OSHA will continue to coordinate with District Attorneys across the state to hold accountable employers who egregiously violate state laws and put employees' lives at risk."   

Cal/OSHA made the referral following investigations into a May 11, 2006 fatality and a September 21, 2006 accident resulting in permanent disability which occurred after two employees fell through unguarded skylights on separate job sites.

The May 11, 2006 accident occurred when employee Antonio Quezada Serrano backed into an ungraded skylight and fell 21 feet to his death while operating a felt laying machine on a roof of a commercial building in Rohnert Park.  The investigation resulted in the issuance of a Cal/OSHA citation totaling $14,400 for not providing a barrier to prevent a fall through a skylight opening. 

Four months later on September 21, 2006 a second employee, Jose Pina Maya, received major head trauma when he fell 19 feet from an unprotected skylight while installing plastic sheeting on a roof in Windsor. ANC supervisor Robert McAfee was present and working with the employee at the time.  Two Cal/OSHA citations were issued, including one classified as willful, which bears proof of the employer knowing the violation existed and took no steps to correct it.  The penalties assessed in this case totaled $70,000. 
The second investigation concluded that ANC Roofing continued to operate in flagrant violation of the California Labor Code.  The willful citation in this case was based upon the fact that the prior incident, investigation and issuance of citations put the employer on notice of the hazards associated with unprotected skylights and the health and safety requirement that they be guarded.  The Division's investigation revealed that both a supervisor and one of the owners of ANC were aware that work would be performed adjacent to the skylight, as well as knowledge of the previous incident, and yet no precautions were taken. 

ANC Roofing owner Kenneth Hugh Alton of Santa Rosa entered a no contest plea to the charges of failing to protect employees from a hazard and was sentenced to 9 months in jail and ordered to pay $248,000 in fines and restitution. Also sentenced was company supervisor Robert Lawrence McAfee of Santa Rosa who pled no contest to a single misdemeanor violation and was sentenced to 30 days in jail. Former ANC owner, Dale Charles, was charged with one misdemeanor and will appear for arraignment on May 18.

California law requires that employees be protected from a fall if they are working within six feet of a skylight.  

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