Metro-East News

Roofing company cited for safety violations in O’Fallon

An area roofing company faces nearly $62,000 in fines after it put employees at risk of dangerous falls while they were installing a new roof on a commercial structure, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Greenville-based Joiner Sheet Metal and Roofing “failed to provide adequate fall protection” to prevent falls of more than 14 feet while the workers were re-roofing the Creve Coeur Camera building at 2020 W. U.S. 50 in October, OSHA said in a news release.

Federal investigators reportedly saw eight workers re-roofing the structure without fall protection. Some form of protection is required whenever employees are working at heights of more than six feet, according to Aaron Priddy, OSHA area director in Fairview Heights.

Preventable falls account for nearly 40 percent of all deaths in the construction industry, according to OSHA, though fall prevention systems can be as simple as a harness attached to an anchor or a toe-board on a platform.

The big message from OSHA is, unfortunately, falls are the leading cause of death in construction.

Rhonda Burke, OSHA spokesperson

“The big message from OSHA is, unfortunately, falls are the leading cause of death in construction,” OSHA spokesperson Rhonda Burke said.

It’s not the first time the roofing company has been fined by OSHA. This is the company’s third violation in roughly three years, according to the spokesperson. The company paid $1,260 in fines resulting from a similar violation in September 2013 in Nashville, Illinois. In October 2015, the administration issued an $18,375 citation to the company for five serious violations in Vandalia, also involving a lack of fall prevention. The company settled with the administration in both cases.

The most recent citations charges the company with one repeat and two serious safety violations. The company was also cited for improperly rigged warning lines and for not having the work site inspected by a “competent” person.

The owner of the company was unavailable for comment Monday afternoon.

Fines can increase when the violations are repeat violations within five years, the spokesperson said. If the company contests the citations, the matter will go before an administrative law judge. They also have the option to enter into a settlement. The fines could be reduced if the company proves it has taken steps to correct the violations, Burke added.

After confirming receipt of the citations on Friday, the company has 15 business days to comply, request a meeting with the area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The federal government updated its final rule on the prevention of falls in November, updating its requirements for how employers protect their workers from falls. It also broadens the list of protection systems OSHA considers adequate.

For more information or to find help regarding workplace dangers, call the toll-free OSHA hotline at 800-321-6742 or the agency’s Fairview Heights Area Office at 618-632-8612. To learn more about how to prevent falls, visit OSHA’s Stop Falls Prevention Campaign website.