Pipeline Company Pleads Guilty to Electric Shock Death of Worker in Johnstown in 2018 | New
PITTSBURGH, Pa .– Butler County-based Insight Pipe Contracting pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to willfully violating a federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation, resulting in death of an electrocution worker, said Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman. .
The worker, Christopher J. Diaz, 30, of Butler, was killed on April 12, 2018 at a construction site in the Moxham section of Johnstown during the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority sewer project.
Diaz was a member of an Insight Pipe team that installed pipe lining materials near the intersection of Dupont Street and Coleman Avenue. Live power lines were located above the site.
The team used a Telehandler, equipment with both the characteristics of a forklift and a crane, to remove the liner from a truck. Diaz, a field technician who had worked for Insight Pipe for about six months, and another employee were acting as observers for the Telehandler operator, according to a sentencing memorandum filed in federal court.
The telehandler operator removed a large roll of pipe liner from the truck and attempted to place it in an open manhole, but the liner got stuck. As the operator attempted to reposition the machine forks, the forks struck overhead power lines carrying 23,000 volts of electricity, causing the machine to be powered on.
Diaz, who had his hand on the Telehandler’s door and was apparently trying to say something to the operator, was electrocuted and died at the scene. Two other workers who tried to pull him away from the machine were injured, officials told the Democratic Tribune at the time.
Federal regulations require that any piece of equipment capable of elevating any part of its structure near live power lines must maintain a clearance of 10 feet. Harmony-based Insight Pipe pleaded guilty to one count of violating this rule before U.S. District Judge Stephanie L. Haines.
Pursuant to its plea agreement, the company agreed to pay a fine of $ 20,000 and serve a three-year probation period. Insight Pipe paid a fine of $ 180,000 in July in an Occupational Safety and Health Administration case arising from Diaz’s death.
Haines set the sentence for October 28. OSHA and the US Department of Labor conducted the investigation.
Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter for La Tribune-Démocrate. He can be reached at 532-5061. Follow him on twitter @PatbrucknowskiTD.