Appeals Court Orders Roofing Contractor to Ensure Workers Use Fall Protection

"The 1st Circuit's order requires Lessard to ensure that all workers at his work sites, whether his employees, employees of his subcontractors, or actual or putative independent contractors, are operating safely, after a long history of his failing to provide adequate protective measures," said Michael Felsen, Regional Solicitor of Labor in Boston.

The First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ordered a Maine roofing contractor who has operated as Lessard Roofing & Siding Inc. and Lessard Brothers Construction Inc. to implement a comprehensive safety and training program, after he received repeated OSHA citations for exposing workers to falls. The owner, Stephen Lessard, also was ordered to produce substantial documentation that will demonstrate the extent to which he is able to pay $389,685 in outstanding fines issued by OSHA, the federal agency announced June 1.

OSHA's news release said the safety agency has conducted "multiple investigations" of Lessard's companies, citing Lessard Roofing & Siding Inc. and Lessard Brothers Construction Inc. for safety violations at 11 different work sites in Maine between 2000 and 2011. Stephen Lessard did not correct the cited violations, implement appropriate safety measures, or pay accumulated fines and interest, despite being ordered to do so by the 1st Circuit in December 2011; the appeals court held the owner in civil contempt for defying the 2011 order, according to OSHA.

"The 1st Circuit's order requires Lessard to ensure that all workers at his work sites, whether his employees, employees of his subcontractors, or actual or putative independent contractors, are operating safely, after a long history of his failing to provide adequate protective measures," said Michael Felsen, Regional Solicitor of Labor in Boston. "When necessary, as in this case, the U.S. Department of Labor will pursue appropriate measures so that employers do not flout the law or gain an unfair advantage over law-abiding employers."

"An employer that refuses to provide effective fall safety programs, training, and safety equipment needlessly exposes its employees to deadly or disabling injuries," said Maryann Medeiros, OSHA's Maine area director.

OSHA said the appeals court also ordered Lessard to ensure that employees and contractors use required safety equipment and fall protection; conduct work site safety analyses and meetings; employ a competent person to ensure work is performed according to OSHA regulations; notify OSHA about each work site and allow inspectors to enter these sites; provide financial documentation to enable the Labor Department to determine the owner's ability to pay the fines; submit certification of abatement of the previously cited hazards, and comply with OSHA standards.

"In particular, the safety program must include recognition and acceptance of responsibility as an employer, general contractor or supervisory contractor to ensure that all their employees, independent contractors or subcontractors use all appropriate safety equipment and fall protection apparatus and follow appropriate procedures," OSHA's release said. "If the owner fails to comply with the order, the court will consider additional sanctions up to and including incarceration."

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