Pa. Roofing Firm Pleads Guilty in Electrocution of Worker

August 3, 2007

A Pennsylvania roofing company pleaded guilty to violating a federal workplace safety regulation in the case of a worker who was electrocuted as his scaffold came into contact with a power line.

A representative of Zeke & Son Roofing and Siding Specialist, of Coraopolis, entered the plea before a federal judge on Wednesday. Under federal law, corporations can be charged with crimes as though they were persons.

Regis Williams, 24, of Pittsburgh, died March 10 during a roofing job in Aliquippa.

Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators said a power line fell onto an aluminum ladder that employees had been using to climb onto the scaffolding earlier that day.

After utility workers repaired the line, they told Zeke & Son to move the scaffold because it was too close to the power lines. The company’s workers started tearing down the scaffold, but put it back up after the utility workers left, investigators said.

Williams fell 30 feet to the ground but was killed by the electric shock, authorities said.

The company, since renamed Zeke & Son Contractors Inc., pleaded guilty to willful violation of an OSHA regulation causing the death of an employee. The firm faces up to one year on probation and $500,000 in fines when it is sentenced on Jan. 22, federal prosecutors said.

OSHA cited the company for several violations and proposed $102,000 in separate workplace safety fines as a result. The company initially contested the citations but later agreed to pay $50,000 in fines as part of a settlement, OSHA spokeswoman Leni Uddyback-Fortson said.

Joseph West, an attorney for the company, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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