A Seattle-area roofing company has earned an ignominious distinction with the state’s Department of Labor and Industry regulatory enforcement agency, being labeled one of Washington’s most frequent safety violators; it has now accumulated more than $3.7 million in fines, unpaid taxes and workers compensation premiums.
Reports from both area newspapers and TV affiliates have documented the ongoing mishaps that Allways Roofing, based in Snohomish, about 30 miles northeast of Seattle and nine miles of Everett, has racked up over the last few years.
Last Thursday, Nov. 9, was the latest in the litany of fines slapped on the roofing firm after state labor regulators imposed $430,000 in new fines for ignoring rules it has broken 60 times in the past four years, state labor regulators said.
According to Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries website, the infraction is the second time in five months state authorities have cited Allways Roofing for putting workers at risk. The L&I list for the beleaguered company is rife with safety violations, worker compensation claims and unpaid taxes.
To date, Allways Roofing has racked up more than $3.7 million in fines, and according to state documents, the firm has paid just under $250,000. The company has also had at least seven serious injuries, including five falls from heights and two eye injuries from nail guns, L&I said.
In 2021, the firm was fined $1.2 million for safety violations at job sites in Snohomish and Lake Stevens, Wash. Before that, it faced a nearly $375,000 bill for violations in Arlington, Wash. and Woodinville, Wash, where five workers, including a foreman, were allegedly working on a steep-pitched roof without proper fall protection.
Under the Microscope
Allways Roofing has been — and will seemingly remain in — the “Severe Violators Enforcement Program,” meaning it faces more intense scrutiny. While the state agency charged with compliance does not have the authority to close down a business, the department told the Everett Herald it hopes the repeated fines will push the company into compliance.
“Unfortunately, sometimes that does not happen,” Dina Lorraine, a spokesperson for L&I, wrote in an email last January, responding to questions about stopping the rogue contractor.
“The requirements are clear; if Allways Roofing is getting cited this often, it means they’re purposefully ignoring the rules to save time and make money,” Craig Blackwood, assistant director for the agency’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, said in a press release.
The most recent fine is related to an incident last April after authorities inspected a job site based on a tip that a roofing crew working on a two-story house in Mount Vernon had neither secure fall protection equipment nor eye protection in use.
As has been reported in nearly every article in this magazine, as well as yearly statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, falling from heights is one of the leading causes of workplace deaths and serious injuries.
State L&I inspectors photographed workers, including the job-site lead, wearing harnesses not secured to an anchor point to prevent them from falling off the roof.
The latest inspection resulted in the monetary penalty, listing four egregious, willful, repeat violations of fall protection rules, the most severe penalty imposed by the state.
“We won’t give up on our efforts to protect these workers no matter how many times we have to inspect, cite, and fine this company,” Blackwood added in the statement, which also noted that the company had not indicated it would appeal the latest fines.
Emails sent to Allways Roofing and its owner, Richard Ovak, went unresponded. Previously, the company declined to respond to other reporter inquiries.
The company also owes more than $22,000 in past-due workers’ compensation premiums and, as a result, had its contractor registration suspended until it satisfies the arrears. The company also has an outstanding tax debt of more than $38,500 that, according to the state, remains unpaid.