Last year, a New Jersey construction company was cited on two separate occasions after its employees fell through a roof on a commercial project. After each incident, as was its prerogative, OSHA investigators took sworn testimony from the company’s owner. Specifically, he was asked whether he had directed any of his construction workers, at any time, to perform repairs on the roof. The owner, again under oath, denied giving and such direction.
Unfortunately for the owner, he forgot that he had sent text messages to his workers specifically ordering them to perform roof repairs! In light of this alleged perjury, the Owner now faces 5 years prison time and a fine of $250,000.
Besides the obvious, i.e., never lie under oath- regardless of the forum- there is another lesson to be learned here. OSHA investigations are serious matters. Counsel should be involved. Your attorney has the right to be present during most portions of any OSHA investigation and such a resource should not be ignored. Early and proactive advocacy can save time and money. Here, an attorney likely would have warned the owner of the seriousness of the situation, asked whether there was any paper trail re: roof repairs and, hopefully, persuaded the Owner to be as honest as his memory would allow. The worst-case scenario would not have involved prison time, but instead fines and citations which counsel could have negotiated. That opportunity evaporated the second the owner decided to (allegedly) perjure himself.
 United States v. Riley, No. 19-MJ-3515 (D.N.J. Feb. 14, 2019).