Employer Whose Roof Worker Died in Portland Had History of Job Safety Violations

After a 30-year-old roof worker fell to his death on a job site in Portland, local media began digging into his employer’s past with work safety violations. The Portland Press Herald reported that the roofing and window installation firm had been slapped with repeated fines for failing to protect workers from job site perils that put them at risk for serious injury and death. Portland workers’ compensation attorneys know that while this won’t necessarily give rise to an additional compensation for the man’s surviving family (who will likely already be entitled to Maine workers’ compensation death benefits), it may expose the company to additional fines.

In the last seven years, the company has been ordered to pay nearly $45,000 for not meeting fall protection safety criteria as outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is now launching another investigation into the worker’s fall-related death. The incident occurred at a three-family home on Congress Street, where the worker reportedly fell from the third story. Safety records indicate federal safety regulators fined the company twice during inspections in 2012 – once for not providing adequate fall arrest systems for workers on a low-sloped roof and again for lack of guardrail systems or safety nets for workers on steep roofs. Then in 2015, federal inspectors said the company had not met the minimum fall safety standards for workers toiling 6 feet or more above the ground, requiring that if workers don’t have a personal fall arrest system, the site needs to be equipped with guardrails, netting or safety harnesses. Then last year, the company was found to be in violation of another worker safety standard requiring ladders extending beyond three feet to be secured safely to the ground. That violation, which is still pending, resulted in an OSHA-recommended fine of nearly $25,000.

In a 13-month period ending March 2018, eight people have died on Maine job sites. One of those in October 2017 involved a worker who fell from a roof when it collapsed. The worker fell to the ground, suffering a neck injury.

Work-Related Falls a Top Cause of Employee Death in Maine

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in a single recent year, an estimated 262,000 workers in the U.S. missed one or more days of work due to job site falls, nearly 800 of which resulted in worker deaths. The highest percentage of those deaths occurred within the construction industry. Non-fatal fall-related injuries were more commonly associated with wholesale and retail industry workers, building maintenance, transportation and health care workers.

Workers’ compensation and medical costs associated with occupational falls are estimated to be roughly $70 million a year in the U.S.

In Maine, workers’ compensation death benefits may be paid to dependents of an employee in an amount equal to 80 percent of the worker’s after-tax weekly wages for up to 500 weeks (roughly 9.5 years) after death. If at the expiration of that 500-week pay period, a person who was wholly/partially dependent on that worker is still under 18, benefits may be paid until that person reaches their 18th birthday.

A Portland workers’ compensation attorney should be consulted by survivors in order to ensure their rights and best interests are protected and every avenue of recovery – including third-party liability – is pursued.

If you are the victim of a Portland work accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Roofing company whose worker died from fall in Portland has history of safety violations, Dec. 15, 2018, By Matt Byrne, Portland Press Herald

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