The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as the state agencies that enforce OSHA regulations, have the potential to levy some serious fines and civil penalties on companies and supervisors who don’t abide by federal occupational safety standards. But while these fines and penalties have the potential to stop work, sometimes indefinitely, they don’t carry the same heft as a prison sentence.
But one construction company owner—who was recently charged with perjury in New Jersey District Court for denying, under oath, that he had directed his employees to repair an unsafe roof—may face up to 5 years in prison for lying to OSHA. Learn more about why telling the truth is always the best decision.
With Big Data, It's Harder to Hide
Few people who perjure themselves by lying under oath expect that these untruths will be found out. But with the ubiquity of cell phones and other data-heavy devices, investigators have the ability to download GPS coordinates, recover deleted text messages, and quickly obtain other types of sensitive information in an effort to determine whether you're telling the truth.
In the RSR Construction case mentioned above, the person charged with perjury was ultimately "found out" through text messages that directly refuted what he'd told investigators at a deposition.
Penalties for Perjury Can Be Steep
Most OSHA cases wind up in federal court, where the potential civil and criminal penalties for a perjury conviction can be far higher than in state court. Federal enforcement agencies, including OSHA, take honesty very seriously—and often, one easily-debunked lie, no matter how insignificant, can be all that's needed to turn a minor safety indiscretion into a major investigation.