Manager at Illinois Firm Sentenced for Obstructing OSHA Investigation

October 21, 2009

A manager of a roofing company in Illinois who pled guilty to obstructing an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) into an employee’s death was sentenced to serve 30 days in custody.

Stephen Vyncke of Moline, Ill., received credit for one day served in jail and was ordered to serve the remaining 29 days as work release. U.S. District Judge Michael M. Mihm also ordered Vyncke to pay a fine of $5,000 and to remain under supervised release for a period of two years.

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois Jeffrey B. Lang stated, “We all expect that OSHA will receive the truth when it conducts safety compliance reviews, especially following a workplace accident. Anyone who deliberately attempts to impede the investigation of a tragic incident resulting in injury or a death can expect to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

“The most dreaded activity required of an OSHA investigator is investigating the death of a working man or woman on the job,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Michael Connors, Chicago. “The one positive we hope to gain from this is a clear telling of what happened and why, for the family and loved ones involved. Our compliance investigations also further the process of learning how to avoid such tragedies in the future. We cannot and will not tolerate anyone obstructing that process.”

Vyncke pled guilty on May 20, 2009, to two felony counts of obstructing pending proceedings and one count of making false statements related to an OSHA investigation.

The investigation followed the death on Oct. 10, 2007, of an employee of Winter’s Architectural Roofing Company. The employee fell 16 feet while working on the roof of a building at 513 31st Avenue in Rock Island. Vyncke admitted that he erected safety fall protection after the employee had fallen and made false statements to OSHA investigators.

The charges were investigated by U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the FBI with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara L. Darrow.

Additionally, OSHA issued eight citations for alleged safety and health violations to Winter’s Architectural Roofing Company, based in Carbon Cliff, Ill.

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