OSHA began its investigation after it was initially believed a worker fell from the roof of a two-story building due to a lack of appropriate fall protection. It was later revealed, however, that the worker had been assigned to work exclusively on the ground, but he apparently disregarded the order by climbing on the roof without being told to do so. Employee misconduct is a defense to OSHA liability in this circumstance. Each of the crew members who were performing the roofing operation were, in fact, tied off to a fall protection system.
â€œThe fact that the employerâ€™s actions did not contribute to this manâ€™s death was heavily influential in persuading OSHA to reduce their penalties, and withdraw the â€˜willfulâ€™ designation,â€ said Cottonâ€™s attorney Steve Grubbs. â€œOSHA knew that the â€˜willfulâ€™ classification would never be upheld by the Administrative Law Judge, so they had no choice but to remove that characterization and reduce the penalties.â€
Under the terms of the agreement reached with the Department of Labor, Cotton has agreed to submit to voluntary safety and health inspections for the next two years, and retain the services of a Certified Safety Professional to verify it is in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act.