A Waukegan, Ill. roofing contractor is being taken to court after refusing to pay $360,531 in penalties for allegedly exposing workers to falls from elevations, according to a federal lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, the action follows an Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission decision in March 6, 2023, that affirmed the citations issued by OSHA after its investigation found that Joshua Herion — operator of ECS Roofing Professionals Inc. — exposed employees to deadly fall hazards at two separate job sites in Illinois and Wisconsin in October 2022.

According to a release from the department, OSHA determined ECS Roofing didn't provide employees required fall arrest systems, a safety net or guardrails as they installed siding and roofing materials atop roofs in Hoffman Estates, Ill., and at a job site in Waukesha, Wis.

The company contested the citations and penalties with the commission, which include $226,530 for the Illinois violations and $134,001 for violations in Wisconsin. The commission affirmed the company should pay the penalties in full, but Herion has since failed to pay the penalties related to these citations. This spurred the department’s Office of the Solicitor in Chicago to file suit.

“The Department of Labor has taken this action to force Joshua Herion and his company, ECS Roofing Professionals Inc., to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission order to pay more than $360,000 in penalties,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Christine Heri in Chicago. “The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to comply with federal safety and health regulations to meet their legal obligation to protect workers on the job.”

The department reports that Herion’s history of OSHA violations dates to 2014. Since then, OSHA has cited Herion and his companies nine times for violations related to fall protection.

“Each year, too many construction workers fall victim to the leading cause of workplace fatalities in the industry because employers fail to provide fall protection,” said OSHA Region Administrator Bill Donovan in Chicago. “OSHA is committed to holding employers like Herion and ECS Roofing Professionals accountable when they ignore their legal responsibility to protect employees from potentially deadly and disabling injuries.”

In 2021, nearly one in five workplace deaths occurred in the construction industry. Just over one-third of construction fatalities were due to falls, slips and trips. Of these, almost all were from falls to a lower level. The construction industry accounted for 46.2% of all fatal falls, slips and trips in 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.