Don’t Make This Roofing Company’s $404,485 Mistake!

Gutter inspection

This August in Maine, a residential roofing contractor provides a cautionary tale for any residential or commercial roofing company that wants to avoid safety-related fines. A federal appeals court has placed roofing contractor Stephen Lessard in contempt over repeated safety violations stretching back to 2003. Even though falls are the most common type of fatal accident in all types of construction, the court says Lessard has consistently failed to provide fall protection to his employees. Not only that, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says he’s failed repeated follow-up inspections.

Now, Lessard has 20 days to pay fines of $404,485 and provide proof that he has addressed the violations. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem very likely, as Lessard says he’s unable to pay. For his part, Lessard claims he’s being singled out by federal regulators, and that inspectors wait for his workers to unclip from safety harnesses to take pictures. What’s more, Lessard says OSHA and the courts should give small residential roofing companies a break, and instead focus their attention on any commercial roofing company that breaks the rules.

Of course, all roofing companies, from tiny residential roofing contractors to the largest commercial roofing company in the industry, should make a “Safety First” attitude their official policy. Because of the serious risk posed by fall injuries, roofing contractors must take special care to abide by all OSHA safety guidelines on the job (and that goes double for employers as well). Failure to comply with regulations not only jeopardizes your workers, but also puts your entire business at risk.

If Lessard can’t pay his fines, and he insists that he cannot, then he could end up in jail. But he won’t find any sympathy from Maryann Medeiros, the OSHA area director for Maine.

“This is scofflaw behavior by a serial violator who demonstrates contempt, not only for the law and the U.S. Court of Appeals, but for the safety and lives of his employees.”

And Medeiros is right. While $400,000 fines would put most roof repair companies out of business in a hurry, that’s nothing compared to the tragedy of losing a worker on your job site. Ultimately, that’s the most important takeaway from this case. If you fail to take your workers’ safety seriously, then you don’t deserve to stay in business.

Leave a Reply