Non-residential building Fall prevention Construction

Roofing contractor indicted for fatal fall, accused of lying to investigators

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US Dept. of Justice

Philadelphia – In a rare criminal prosecution for a workplace fatality, the Department of Justice has charged a roofing company owner with attempting to cover up his failure to provide fall protection for a worker who fell 45 feet to his death.

James J. McCullagh, owner of James J. McCullagh Roofing, was charged with four counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction of justice, as well as with willfully violating OSHA’s Scaffolds Standard, according to a DOJ indictment announced June 11.

In 2013, McCullagh was contracted to repair a Philadelphia church roof. On June 21 of that year, a worker fell from a roof bracket scaffold and died. In the aftermath of the worker’s death, McCullagh told OSHA he had provided fall protection and that his workers were wearing safety harnesses and were tied off to an anchor point prior to the fatal fall. However, two of McCullagh’s employees claim this is not true, and allege that McCullagh directed them to lie to investigators.

If convicted, McCullagh could be sentenced up to 25 years in prison and fined $1.5 million.

Only two criminal prosecutions related to worker deaths occurred in 2014, according to a National Council for Occupational Safety and Health report.