$243,360 in Fines Issued to Maine Contractor for Fall Hazards

OSHA inspectors found four Lessard employees exposed to potentially life-threatening falls of 23 feet while working without fall protection on a steep-pitched roof at a work site in Lewiston, Maine.

A Lewiston, Maine, roofing contractor faces a total of $243,360 in proposed fines from OSHA following a January inspection that resulted in citations for alleged egregious willful, serious, and repeat violations for a lack of fall protection and other hazards. OSHA previously had cited Lessard Brothers Construction Inc. and its predecessor, Lessard Roofing & Siding Inc., 10 times for fall protection violations at various Maine work sites.

OSHA inspectors found four Lessard employees exposed to potentially life-threatening falls of 23 feet while working without fall protection on a steep-pitched roof at a work site in Lewiston. Due to management's knowledge of the hazard and the required safeguards, along with the company's extensive history of violations, Lessard was cited for four egregious willful violations with $224,000 in proposed fines.

"This employer ignored the law and put workers' lives at risk," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "OSHA's commonsense regulations save lives. Employers who ignore these regulations and endanger their employees will face the consequences."

In addition, Lessard was cited for two serious violations with $10,560 in proposed fines for an electrical hazard, and for failing to train workers on electrical hazards and fall protection. The company also was cited for one repeat violation with a proposed fine of $8,800 for a lack of hard hat protection.

The repeat citation stems from OSHA having cited the company in January 2010 for a similar hazard at a Bath, Maine, work site.

"Falls are the number one killer in construction work," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator. "Employees in situations such as this are just one slip, trip or misstep away from a fatal or disabling fall. Responsible employers must ensure that effective fall protection measures are in place and in use every day on every job site."

This significant enforcement action qualifies Lessard Brothers Construction for OSHA's Severe Violators Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. Initiated in 2010, SVEP focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.

Since Oct. 28, 2010, according to Maine's workers' compensation insurance verification system, Lessard Brothers Construction has been without workers' compensation insurance coverage.

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