Roofing Contractor’s Failure to Respond to OSHA Citations Could Send Contractor to Jail
In December 2011, a Maine roofing contractor was directed by federal court order to correct violations associated with 11 different OSHA citations and to pay $404,000 in fines and interest that had been imposed previously over the period 2000 to 2011. The 11 citations related to 11 different work sites, and the contractor not only never responded to the initial citations but also never corrected the underlying safety conditions or paid the assessed fines after the citations had turned into final orders. Now, the contractor could wind up in jail.
In view of the contractor’s prior pattern of disregard, the U.S. Department of Labor has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit in Boston to hold the contractor in civil contempt. As stated by Michael Felsen, the department’s regional solicitor of labor for New England, “Seeking a contempt order, such as this, is a stringent and infrequent action, but one that is more than warranted in this case.” Maryann Medeiros, OSHA’s area director in Maine, added that the contractor’s actions (or, in the case here, inaction in failing to abate the hazards and pay the imposed penalties) amounted to “scofflaw behavior” and contempt for the law, as well as the safety and lives of its employlees.
Many of the prior violations against the roofing contractor related to fall hazards, the primary cause of death in construction work. Recognizing the importance of preventing falls in the construction industry, and to raise awareness of fall hazards and safeguards among workers, employers and the public, OSHA has created a Stop Falls web page on fall protection standards.
Further, as was the subject of this recent blog post, OSHA will be hosting its second annual National Safety Stand-Down to prevent falls in construction from May 4-15, 2015. Information regarding the National Safety Stand-Down, as well as fall prevention resources, including training materials, may be found here.