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Butler County company pleads guilty in worker's 2018 death in Johnstown




  • In US
  • 2021-09-26 22:34:00Z
  • By The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.

Sep. 26-PITTSBURGH - A Butler County-based company pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to willfully violating a federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation that caused the death of a worker, Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced.

Insight Pipe Contracting, LLC, located in Harmony, pleaded guilty to one count before U.S. District Judge Stephanie L. Haines.

Christopher J. Diaz, 30, of Butler, was electrocuted April 12, 2018, when an Insight Pipe crew was installing pipe-liner at a work site in Johnstown's Moxham section as part of the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority sewer project.

The crew was using a telehandler, a piece of equipment that has the feathers of a forklift and crane, to remove liner from a box truck. Energized power lines were located above the site.

At one point, the telehandler removed a large roll of liner from the truck and attempted to place it into an open manhole but the liner got stuck. As the telehandler's operator attempted to reposition the machine's forks, the forks made contact with the overhead lines carrying 23,000 volts of electricity causing the machine to become energized.

While this was taking place, one Insight Pipe employee had his hand on the telehandler's door and was apparently trying to tell something to the operator. Diaz was electrocuted and died at the scene.

Under terms of its plea agreement, Insight Pipe has agreed to pay a fine of $20,000 and serve thee years probation. Insight Pipe earlier paid a fine of $180,000 in civil penalties in an OSHA administrative case stemming from the worker's death.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that federal regulations require that any vehicle or mechanical equipment capable of having any part of its structure elevated near energized power lines must maintain a clearance of 10 feet.

Judge Haines scheduled sentencing for Oct. 28. The company faces up to five years probation and a $500,000 fine.

OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor conducted the investigation.

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