AUGUSTA, Maine — A Maine roofing contractor is facing more than $278,000 in penalties for workplace safety violations on top of $1.8 million in penalties related to a worker’s death.
In a release, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Shawn Purvis, owner of Saco-based Purvis Home Improvement Co. Inc., for willful, repeated and serious workplace violations at a jobsite in Springvale, Maine. The penalties total $278,456.
These latest fines originated from an inspection in May where OSHA found three workers on a two-story roof who were not using fall protection. OSHA also noted that the workers were not using ladders with side rails that did not extend at least three feet above upper work surfaces.
“OSHA regulations require that employees working at heights wear fall protection,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “This employer’s ongoing defiance of the law continues to place his workers at risk for disabling and fatal injuries.”
The inspection came a month after a Portland, Maine grand jury indicted Purvis for manslaughter and workplace manslaughter, charging that Purvis’ repeated OSHA violations resulted in the death of one of his workers.
In December 2018, Alan Loignon was reportedly working as a subcontracted roofer at a house in Portland and wasn’t using federally-required fall protection. When Loignon climbed down a ladder onto scaffolding, he fell 21 feet to his death.
OSHA cited Purvis in June 2019 with multiple violations that totaled $1.8 million in penalties, saying inspectors found that Purvis knowingly failed to ensure the use of fall protection by his employees at the Portland jobsite and a separate site in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
Purvis has pled not-guilty to the charges. According to the Portland Press Herald, Purvis said he always provides safety gear at his jobsites, but cannot force subcontractors to use it, comparing it to making people wear seatbelts.
“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,” Purvis told the Portland Press Herald.
Purvis also faces a $2.5 million wrongful death lawsuit from the family of Loignon.
If convicted under the workplace manslaughter statute, Purvis could be sentenced to a maximum of five years and a $5,000 fine. If he is convicted of the manslaughter charge, he could face as much as 30 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.