An Ohio roofing contractor was sentenced to three years in prison for involuntary manslaughter in the death of an employee who fell from a three-story roof in November 2017 while working without required fall protection.

Jim Coon, owner of Jim Coon Construction of Akron, was sentenced Sept. 6 after pleading guilty in the death of Gerardo "Jerry" Juarez Sr.

Juarez, a 39-year-old father of five, suffered the fatal fall on his second day on the job.

Coon, 53, entered the manslaughter plea under an agreement in which prosecutors dismissed a charge of reckless homicide.

The sentencing by Summit County Judge Alison McCarty follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration that found the contractor failed to install fall protection systems.

The conviction is based on Coon ignoring safety hazards and failing to provide workers’ compensation coverage as required.

He was also ordered to pay $303,152 in restitution to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation after he pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud.

Leading OSHA Violation

Prosecutors dropped a second fraud charge as part of the plea deal.

Coon's company is now defunct.

"Jim Coon willfully disregarded OSHA fall protection regulations that could have prevented this tragedy," said Loren Sweatt, principal deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

"This case should serve as a reminder to all employers to comply with their legal obligation to provide required safety equipment and protect employees on job sites."

Sweatt said that falls "continue to be the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry, which makes the use of proper protection essential."

In fact, for the third straight year, fall protection continues to be the top OSHA violation, according to the agency.

OSHA offers compliance assistance resources on how companies and contractors can prevent falls from ladders, scaffolds, and roofs.

For more information, contact CBIA's Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1982).