The U.S. Department of Labor reported that federal workplace safety inspectors found an Appleton, Wisc. contractor disregarded employee safety by allowing workers to perform residential roof work without the necessary fall protection gear or training.

In a Jan. 5 news release, inspectors with the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration claimed to observe three workers employed by Chilos Construction near the peak of an Appleton home — and another employee operating a leaf blower on its roof — with no form of fall protection in July 2023. 

“Far too often, OSHA inspectors find roofing contractors like [Chilos Construction] ignoring federal safety regulations and allowing the construction industry’s most deadly hazard to endanger workers’ lives and well-being,” said OSHA Area Director Robert Bonack. 

“[The owner] must take his legal responsibilities seriously and protect his employees before someone is seriously hurt or worse,” Bonack continued.

OSHA cited Chilos Construction’s owner, Bacilio Rios, for four repeat violations and assessed the owner $281,485 in proposed penalties. Specifically, the violations included the company’s failure to provide fall protection equipment or train employees how to use it, improper use of ladders and failure to train workers on hazards related to falls and ladders. 

The agency added that it had cited Rios, who also does business as Bacilio Rios Roofing, for similar violations in October 2022 and that the contractor never responded to those infractions. In that incident, OSHA said the company faced $301,512 in proposed fines and had “shown callous disregard for employees’ safety and scoffed at federal safety requirements since 2009.”

Appleton, about 33 miles southwest of Green Bay, has a population of around 75,000 and is one of Wisconsin’s 10 largest cities. Roofing Contractor magazine left a voicemail for Rios at a phone number listed for him on Monday seeking comment.

“Fall hazards make residential construction work among the nation’s most dangerous jobs,” OSHA's Bonack added. “Every employer has a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace. For roofing workers, proper safety equipment and training to recognize hazards and follow safety procedures can be a matter of life and death.”