AUGUSTA, Maine — A Saco, Maine-based roofer faces about $1.8 million in fines for failing to protect workers, after one of them fell and died in December.
According to a release from OSHA, Shawn D. Purvis, owner of Purvis Home Improvement Co. Inc., faces a total of $1,792,726 in penalties “for egregious willful, repeat, and serious workplace safety violations.”
OSHA said inspectors found that Purvis knowingly failed to ensure the use of fall protection by his employees at the Portland worksite, and at a separate worksite in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
Due to Purvis’ knowledge of the hazard and required safeguards, along with an extensive history of violations, OSHA said it cited him for 13 egregious willful violations — one for each exposed employee per job site — for failing to ensure the use of fall protection.
Each egregious citation carries the maximum allowable penalty of $132,598. OSHA also cited Purvis for failing to provide fall protection training to his employees, and for exposing them to electrocution and eye hazards. OSHA has cited the owner for seven violations of fall protection requirements since September 2006.
“Effective fall protection can prevent tragedies like this when an employer ensures the proper use of legally required lifesaving protection,” said OSHA Area Director David McGuan, in Augusta, Maine. “An ongoing refusal to follow the law exposes other employees to potentially fatal or disabling injuries. Employers cannot evade their responsibility to ensure a safe and healthful worksite.”
Purvis has 15 days to file an appeal with OSHA.
He is facing other legal issues in connection with the December death.
On April 5, a Portland grand jury indicted Purvis for manslaughter and workplace manslaughter, charging that his repeated violations of OSHA’s fall protection standards caused his employee’s death.
Additionally, The Portland Press Herald reports that a $2.5 million wrongful death lawsuit was filed in York County Superior Court on behalf of the estate of Alan Loignon, 30, who fell and died while working on a home last December.
Court documents indicate that a week after Loignon fell 21 feet and died, “Purvis Home Improvement was again performing residential roofing working without fall protection equipment (at another site).”
In a court transcript from a Feb. 8 deposition taken as OSHA investigators were trying to get documents as part of its investigation into Loignon’s death, Purvis testified that some of the records sought didn’t exist, including documentation related to safety and health programs and written safety rules for Purvis Home Improvement workers, contractors or employees.
“I sell roofs, and I hire subcontractors to put them in. I don’t have an office. I work out of my pickup truck. I don’t have a big employee company that has Wednesday safety meetings at 3:00. I don’t have employees. That doesn’t exist. There’s no such thing,” Purvis said during the deposition.
The Press Herald reports he conveyed a similar message in an April interview with the paper.
“Every single day, I show up at the job site … and I tell them, please, be safe, everything you need is here,” Purvis told the paper. “I can’t sit there 24/7 and watch subcontractors. It’s either they’re going to wear (the safety gear) or they won’t. It’s like wearing a seat belt, it’s either you do it or you don’t.”
He added later: “I can supply everything to be OSHA approved, but I can’t sit there and watch these guys all day long. That’s their job. They’re self-employed.”