POCATELLO – A man from Pocatello was sentenced to one month in federal prison, five months in house arrest, three years of supervised release and a fine of $ 15,000 today for lying to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ( OSHA) and for making an illegal repair to a tanker in violation of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act. The crimes came to light thanks to the explosion investigation.
On May 20, Loren Kim Jacobson, 65, of Pocatello, owner of an oil tanker testing and repair company, KCCS Inc., pleaded guilty to the above offenses. The case arises from an explosion that occurred at KCCS during a repair of a cargo ship on August 14, 2018, which seriously injured a KCCS employee. According to the plea agreement, the flame from the KCCS employee’s welder pierced the skin of the tanker and ignited residual flammable material inside. After the explosion, an OSHA investigator questioned Jacobson about the circumstances of the accident, as part of an investigation into whether Jacobson had violated OSHA’s safety standards for repair work. cargo ships. Jacobson made a false statement to the OSHA investigator during this interview that the welder was only an “observer”, not an employee, and that KCCS had no employees, as the OSHA requirements only apply to “employers.”
Jacobson lied about not having employees to try to evade legal repercussions and penalties for his violation of various safety standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Act during the repair which resulted the explosion. According to the sentencing memorandum, Jacobson also lied on several other points, including telling the OSHA inspector that he used a lower explosive limit meter to test the tank for explosive fumes before welding. The use of such a counter could have detected the fumes that led to the explosion.
Jacobson also admitted in the plea deal that he did not have the necessary certification to perform cargo tanker repairs, which he performed regularly at KCCS. Under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, all repairs to the skin of a tanker require the repairer to hold an “R stamp”, which can only be obtained after meeting training requirements. thorough. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that those performing repairs on tankers (which often carry flammable materials) have adequate training and expertise to do so safely. Jacobson admitted that he used to make repairs that required an R-pad, even though he knew he didn’t have one, and that he sent employees on tankers to weld parts from the inside so that illegal repairs are not visible from the outside. Jacobson did not follow OSHA safety standards to protect employees from such dangerous “confined space entry”. According to the plea agreement, Jacobson ordered his employee to perform such a hidden repair on the tanker which subsequently exploded, in violation of both OSHA safety standards and the requirement. of the R.
According to the government’s sentencing memorandum, Jacobson also had a habit of falsifying the results of pressure tests he performed on behalf of cargo tank owners. Pressure testing is required by law and is intended to ensure that cargo tanks will automatically vent gases if the pressure inside the tank becomes too high, thus preventing explosions. Instead of actually testing the tank valves, Jacobson just wrote plausible numbers on the test result forms. When confronted with the practice, Jacobson lied to a Department of Transportation inspector about it, attempting to cover up the practice by producing fake test result forms with passing values. He later admitted his practice of falsifying pressure test results.
“This tragic accident could have been avoided if the defendant had followed OSHA’s workplace safety requirements,” said Acting US Attorney Rafael M. Gonzalez, Jr. “It is essential that companies adhere to all guidelines health and safety and ensure a safe workplace for their employees. By relentlessly focusing on financial gain, the defendant created the conditions that led to the explosion, ”Gonzalez added before commending investigators for OSHA, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency for uncovering the evidence in this case.
“Playing cat and mouse with inspectors, rather than complying with legal requirements that keep workplaces safe, is a dangerous game that can ruin lives,” said Deputy Attorney General Todd Kim of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Ministry of Justice. “The Justice Department will hold accountable those who mock the law in this way. “
“Loren Jacobson has made significant false statements to OSHA investigators regarding his inability to take security measures to protect his employees,” said Special Agent in Charge Quentin Heiden of the US Department of Labor’s office. Inspector General of the Los Angeles area. “His actions put his employees in extreme danger and led to the explosion of a freighter they were repairing. Today’s conviction confirms the commitment of the Inspector General of the United States Department of Labor to bring to justice those who lie to OSHA officials.
Acting U.S. Attorney Gonzalez praised the cooperative efforts of the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General, the Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General, and the Environmental Protection Agency that led to accusations. He also praised the help of the Attorney General of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice.