DOJ: Idaho employer facing prison time after lying to OSHA
Pocatello, ID — A tanker testing and repair company owner has pleaded guilty to lying to OSHA and making illegal repairs to a cargo tanker, the Department of Justice announced May 20.
A federal district court judge is scheduled to sentence Loren Kim Jacobson of KCCS Inc. on Aug. 25, according to a DOJ press release. The 65-year-old faces a maximum of 10 years in prison (five years for each count) and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count.
According to the Idaho State Journal, Jacobson and an employee were severely burned and hospitalized in critical condition after an explosion occurred while they were attempting to repair a cargo tanker Aug. 14, 2018, in Pocatello. The explosion was set off when the employee, a welder, pierced the skin of the tanker, which contained residual flammable material.
During the subsequent investigation, Jacobson falsely told OSHA that his company had no employees and that the person doing the welding was an “observer.”
“This was an important point because OSHA requirements only apply to ‘employers,’” the release states. “Jacobson lied about not having employees to evade legal repercussions and penalties for his violation of various Occupational Safety and Health Act safety standards during the repair that resulted in the explosion.”
Jacobson also admitted in his plea agreement that he didn’t hold an R stamp, a certification required to make repairs to the skin of a cargo tanker under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act of 1975. He also didn’t follow OSHA standards for confined space entries.
“Jacobson admitted that he had a regular practice of making repairs requiring an ‘R’ stamp, despite knowing he did not have one, and that he would send employees into the cargo tankers to weld patches from the inside of the tanker so that the illegal repairs would not be visible from the outside,” the release states.
OSHA cited KCCS for four violations after the investigation, which was closed in July 2020. An informal settlement dropped the company’s initial fine to $12,651 from $14,207.
“OSHA’s mission is to ensure that every American comes home safe and sound after the day’s work,” David Kearns, area director of OSHA’s office in Boise, ID, said in the release. “When an employer lies to OSHA, he passes the buck, leaving the door open to more workplace injuries and deaths. No one should be killed or injured for a paycheck. Dishonesty is not a means to protect workers.”