Portrait of a serial safety violator
A Maine roofing contractor could face prison time if he ignores that latest court order to pay his OSHA fines and correct safety violations that endanger his workers – as he did previous court orders.
Between 2000 and 2011, OSHA cited Lessard Roofing & Siding Inc. and Lessard Brothers Construction Inc. for safety violations at 11 different work sites in Maine.
Owner Stephen Lessard failed to:
- correct the cited violations
- implement appropriate safety measures, and
- pay accumulated fines and interest, despite being ordered to do so by the 1st Circuit in December 2011. The Court held the owner in civil contempt for defying the 2011 order.
In this latest court order, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, Lessard was ordered to:
- implement a comprehensive safety and training program after receiving repeated citations for exposing workers to falls and
- produce substantial documentation that will demonstrate the extent to which he is able to pay $389,685 in outstanding fines issued by OSHA.
“The 1st Circuit’s order requires Lessard to ensure that all workers at his worksites, 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.
The Court also ordered Lessard to ensure that employees and contractors use required safety equipment and fall protection; conduct worksite safety analyses and meetings; employ a “competent person” to ensure work is performed according to OSHA regulations; notify OSHA about each worksite, and allow inspectors to enter these sites; and provide financial documentation to enable the 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.
If the owner fails to comply with the order, the court will consider additional sanctions up to and including incarceration.
Senior Trial Attorney Maureen Canavan of the Department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in Boston and Senior Attorney Lisa Wilson of the Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Division in Washington, D.C., litigated on behalf of OSHA.