A Maine roofing company has been held in contempt of court for failing to pay OSHA fines and abate hazards at its work sites. If the owner doesn’t comply with a court order within 20 days, he could go to jail.
Lessard Roofing & Siding Inc. of Greene, ME, was cited by OSHA for safety violations 11 times between 2000 and 2011.
OSHA says the company’s owner, Stephen Lessard, has refused to correct the violations and pay $404,485 in fines, plus interest and fees, even after the agency obtained an order from a federal district court in Maine in December 2011.
Now the 1st Circuit Court in Boston has held Lessard in civil contempt for defying the 2011 order. The court says that, within 20 days, Lessard must:
- submit proof of correction for the cited hazards, and
- pay $404,485 plus interest and fees.
If Lessard doesn’t comply, potential penalties for contempt include:
- prison for a corporate officer
- daily failure-to-abate penalties, and
- recovery of OSHA’s costs to bring action against the company.
Lessard was issued at least one citation in each inspection. OSHA alleged multiple serious, repeat and willful violations involving:
- fall protection
- electrical safety, and
- head protection.
The company didn’t contest the violations. When that happens, the penalties become a final order.
The fines totaled $407,560, but OSHA received a partial payment of $3,075.
OSHA says even after obtaining the 2011 order against Lessard, the company continued to violate OSHA rules.
On July 18, 2014, OSHA inspected a work site in Lewiston, ME, at which three Lessard employees were doing roofing work without required fall protection.
In February 2012, Lessard sent a letter to OSHA with some proposed abatement steps. However, OSHA characterized the steps as “generic instructions” to employees to “inspect all equipment” and “recognize hazards” in response to two citations relating to exposure to high voltage power lines.
Lessard told the Portland Press Herald he doesn’t have the money to pay the fines, and the jobs he was cited for were finished years ago, so it’s impossible for him to now prove that the hazards were abated. He said OSHA failed to notify him about the contempt hearing.