Idaho employer sentenced for lying to OSHA after welding explosion
Pocatello, ID — The owner of a tanker testing and repair company was sentenced to one month in prison and five months of home confinement for lying to OSHA and making illegal repairs to a cargo tanker, the Department of Justice announced Nov. 19.
Loren Kim Jacobson of KCCS Inc. pleaded guilty to the charges May 20 after an investigation of an explosion involving the cargo tanker. The 65-year-old faced a maximum of 10 years in prison (five years for each count) and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count. Ultimately, he was fined $15,000 and given three years of supervised release in addition to his confinement.
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 the 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.”
A DOJ press release states that Jacobson also lied about “several other points, including telling the OSHA inspector that he used a lower explosive limit meter to test the tank for explosive fumes prior to welding.”
Additionally, he admitted in his plea agreement that he wasn’t certified to conduct cargo tanker repairs but conducted them regularly at his business. He also “had a routine practice of falsifying results for pressure testing that he conducted on behalf of cargo tank owners.”
When confronted about this practice, Jacobson lied to a Department of Transportation inspector about it as well.
“This tragic accident could have been prevented had the defendant adhered to OSHA workplace safety requirements,” Rafael M. Gonzalez Jr., acting U.S. attorney for the District of Idaho, said in the release. “It is vital that companies follow all health and safety guidelines and ensure a safe workplace for [their] employees. By callously focusing on financial gain, the defendant created the conditions that led to the explosion.”