KANSAS CITY, MO – An Oklahoma construction contractor entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and agreed to pay $370,680 in criminal and civil penalties to avoid federal prosecution on one count of ignoring federal safety regulations that resulted in a worker fatality in St. Joseph in 2019.The action follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration that found Skinner Tank Co. did not require employees to use fall protection while working on the roof of the 56-foot soybean storage tank, nor provide fall protection training. On Oct. 14, 2019, an employee on the roof died after falling more than 50 feet to the ground. OSHA’s inspection also revealed that the company provided inaccurate safety information to its employees by telling them that wearing fall protection actually presented a greater hazard than not wearing it. After issuing civil citations, including willful violations for failing to require the use of fall protection and provide fall protection training, and proposing $415,204 in penalties, OSHA made a criminal referral to the U.S. Department of Justice under the criminal provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. “The Department of Labor pursued legal action and made a criminal referral to the Department of Justice to hold Skinner Tank Company responsible for its willful violation of safety regulations that resulted in an employee’s death,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Christine Heri in Chicago. “Compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s fall protection requirements is essential to prevent fatalities like the one that occurred here. To meet their legal obligations under the Act and protect their workers on the job, employers must follow the applicable federal safety and health regulations.”Under the deferred prosecution agreement filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on September 5, 2023, Skinner Tank Co., must pay a monetary penalty to the United States Treasury of $175,000 and an OSHA penalty of $195,660. “The resolution of this case sends a strong message that OSHA will hold employers accountable for willful violations of federal safety regulations that seriously or fatally injure their workers,” explained OSHA Region Administrator Billie Kizer in Kansas City, Missouri. “Each year, too many workers lose their lives from falls — the leading cause of workplace deaths in the construction industry — because employers fail to provide fall protection.” Founded in 1982, Skinner Tank Co. is a family-operated company that builds welded steel storage tanks across the country. The company is based in Yale, Oklahoma.In 2021, nearly one in five workplace deaths occurred in the construction industry. Just over one-third of construction deaths were due to falls, slips, and trips. Of these, almost all were from falls to a lower level. The construction industry accounted for 46.2 percent of all fatal falls, slips, and trips in 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. OSHA’s stop falls website offers safety information and video presentations in English and Spanish to teach workers about fall hazards and proper safety procedures. Learn more about OSHA.
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