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News July 18, 2023

Contractor found individually liable for nearly $1.6 million in penalties

A federal administrative law judge has determined Shawn D. Purvis, doing business as Maine-based Purvis Home Improvement Co. Inc., willfully exposed employees to fall hazards at roofing worksites in Portland, Maine; Old Orchard Beach, Maine; and Springvale, Maine, between December 2018 and May 2019, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Although Purvis operates his roofing business as a corporation, Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission Administrative Law Judge Carol A. Baumerich found him personally liable for nearly $1.6 million in OSHA penalties.

The judge also analyzed the employment relationship between Purvis and his workers and determined they were Purvis’ employees, negating his claim that his workers were independent contractors not protected by the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

OSHA cited Purvis and his business for 14 willful, two repeat and four serious workplace safety violations after a series of inspections. The agency opened the first inspection Dec. 13, 2018, after an employee fell more than 21 feet to his death from a steep roof in Portland. OSHA determined Purvis failed to ensure employees wore required fall protection.

Five days later, OSHA found similar hazards at Purvis’ worksites in Old Orchard Beach, where the company exposed employees to falls of up to 15 feet, and again in May 2019 in Springvale, where employees were exposed to falls of up to 21 feet. The citations included 13 egregious-willful or “instance-by-instance” violations. Purvis contested all the citations to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Before these three inspections, OSHA cited Purvis’ company for violations at least five times beginning in 2006, including for repeatedly failing to ensure employees wore fall protection.

Purvis has appealed the decision to the full Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


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