INDUSTRY NEWS:Electrical Contractor Fined $500,000 for Fatal Flaws
In a rare case in which a company's safety violations led to criminal charges, an electrical contracting firm was sentenced Thursday to pay $500,000 and serve three years' probation for its role in the death of an employee, the Chicago Tribune reports.
L.E. Myers Co. of Rolling Meadows was found guilty in May of violating five workplace safety rules that led to the death of lineman Blake Lane, 20, in 1999.
At a sentencing hearing in federal court Thursday, Assistant U.S. Atty. Eric Sussman lambasted L.E. Myers officials for the company's troubled safety record and for continuing to refer to Lane's death as an accident.
"We've proven beyond a reasonable doubt to 12 jurors that this was not an accident," Sussman said. "This was the intentional disregard of five separate [safety] statutes that caused the death of Blake Lane."
The judge gave L.E. Myers the maximum fine but not the maximum probation, which was five years.
The violations of OSHA regulations constituted a misdemeanor, even though Lane died.
Terms of the sentence include reports by the company to probation officials of any future OSHA violations.
Lane was jolted by 2,400 volts of electricity atop a 120-foot steel tower on Dec. 28, 1999. Prosecutors said Lane, who was inexperienced, was not warned by his foreman that the power line was live.
Sussman called $500,000 "not even a drop in the bucket for this company." He cited records showing that in 2000, the company spent more than that on hotels for traveling employees.
(submitted by Tony Moscioni)
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