A Maine roofing contractor faces $1.6 million in penalties after a federal judge affirmed citations and violations related to the death of a worker in 2018.

In December 2018, Alan Loignon, 30, was reportedly working as a subcontracted roofer at a house in Portland for Purvis Home Improvement Co. of Scarborough, Maine. He wasn’t using fall protection and, while climbing down a ladder onto scaffolding, fell 21 feet to his death.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated and issued citations “for egregious willful, repeat, and serious workplace safety violations.” The agency levied a total of $1,792,726 in penalties against Shawn Purvis, owner of Purvis Home Improvement Co.

“Falls from heights are one of the leading causes of work-related death in the U.S. and in New England specifically,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton in Boston. “When employers like Shawn Purvis do not comply with fall protection requirements, they will be cited and fined. An employer previously cited for the same violations will generally face substantially larger fines.”

Although Purvis operates his roofing business as a corporation, Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission Administrative Law Judge Carol A. Baumerich found him personally liable for $1,572,340 in OSHA penalties.

The judge also analyzed the employment relationship between Purvis and his workers and determined they were Purvis’ employees, negating his claim that his workers were independent contractors not protected by the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

OSHA cited Purvis and his Maine-based business for 14 willful, two repeat and four serious workplace safety violations after a series of inspections. The agency opened the first inspection Dec. 13, 2018, after the employee's death. OSHA determined that Purvis failed to ensure employees wore required fall protection.

Five days later, OSHA found similar hazards at Purvis’ work sites in Old Orchard Beach and again in May 2019 in Springvale where the company exposed employees to falls of up to 15 and 21 feet, respectively. The citations included 13 egregious-willful or “instance-by-instance” violations.

Purvis contested all the citations. Before these three inspections, OSHA cited Purvis’ company for violations at least five times beginning in 2006, including for failing to ensure employees wore fall protection repeatedly.

As reported in the Portland Press Herald, Baumerich ruled in May that OSHA had rightfully cited Purvis. She decreased the total fines against him from $1,792,726 to $1,572,340.

Purvis told the Portland Press Herald that he plans to appeal the decision, saying the rulings were “not based on facts.”

“We’re going to appeal it and win,” Purvis told the Portland Press Herald. “We got told out the gate that we weren’t going to win because the judge has to side with OSHA and we would have to appeal.”

A jury found Purvis not guilty of workplace manslaughter in December 2021 related to the fatal fall.