The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is seeking nearly $1.8 million in penalties from a Maine roofing contractor following a worker’s fatal fall. The agency cited Shawn D. Purvis, owner of Purvis Home Improvement Co., Inc., for 17 egregious willful, repeat, and serious workplace safety violations.
A Portland, Maine, grand jury also has indicted Purvis for workplace manslaughter.
On December 13, 2018, a worker at Purvis’s Portland worksite was in the process of climbing off a roof onto a ladder jack scaffold when he lost his footing on the roof and fell. Injuries sustained in the fall led to his death. The worker was not wearing any personal fall arrest system.
Purvis had been cited repeatedly for violations of the fall protection standard since September 2006.
“An ongoing refusal to follow the law exposes other employees to potentially fatal or disabling injuries,” Augusta, Maine, OSHA Area Director David McGuan said in an agency statement. “Employers cannot evade their responsibility to ensure a safe and healthful worksite.”
Following the fatal fall, OSHA investigated and has proposed penalties of $1,116,476 for the willful, repeat, and serious violations at the Portland site. OSHA inspected another of Purvis’s sites in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, days later and has proposed penalties of $676,250 for willful and serious violations at the second site.
OSHA cited Purvis for 13 willful violations of the fall protection standard, 1 for each exposed employee at the 2 worksites.
The fatal fall at the Portland site led to a citation for willful violation of the fall protection requirement to protect each employee with a guardrail or safety net system or personal fall arrest system during residential construction activities at 6 feet or more above a lower level. Similar violations were previously cited at other Maine sites in Scarborough in 2013 and 2018, Pine Point in 2015, Westbrook in 2012, and South Portland in 2006.
OSHA also cited Purvis for seven additional willful violations for failing to protect other employees at the Portland site. Purvis was cited for five additional willful violations of the fall protection standard at the Old Orchard site.
In addition to the willful violations, the agency cited Purvis for violations of construction industry standards at both the Portland and Old Orchard site, including:
- Serious violation of the scaffolding standard for setting up a ladder jack scaffolding platform fewer than 3 feet from exposed power lines that were not de-energized or protected;
- Serious violation of the fall protection standard’s training requirements;
- Serious violation of the eye protection standard for not ensuring that employees performing nailing had safety glasses to protect their eyes from flying objects; and
- Repeat violation of the ladders standard for a ladder used to access the ladder jack scaffolding that did not extend at least 3 feet past the scaffold planking.
Workplace manslaughter, a Class A felony in Maine, involves an intentional violation of a state or federal workplace safety standard that leads to the death of an employee or worker under the employer’s direct control, such as an independent contractor. If Purvis is convicted of workplace manslaughter, he could face 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.