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Ignoring OSHA Fines Lands Roofers in Jail

Monday, July 27, 2015

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Officers of a Florida-based roofing company were recently incarcerated for a week after failing to comply with federal workplace safety standards and pay associated fines.

Guillermo Perez and Elma Maldonado, the president and vice president of GP Roofing & Construction LLC, of Palm Coast, FL, were taken into custody June 16 for failing to comply with a March 30 civil contempt order.

The contempt order stemmed from the company’s failure to comply with OSHA safety standards, including fall-protection and safe-ladder practices, and pay $195,170 in outstanding penalties.

OSHA Fall protection

Falls are the leading cause of death in construction, according to OSHA.

Perez and Maldonado were released June 23 on signature bonds to work on purging the contempt, according to OSHA.

Perez was ordered to surrender his passport, and they were both ordered to limit their travel to within the state of Florida. The two were also given 30 days to pay the outstanding penalties or demonstrate the inability to pay and certify that they have abated the OSHA violations cited in prior inspections.

A final hearing on the case is set for Aug. 26.

Case History

Nine OSHA inspections of GP Roofing worksites in Florida resulted in citations being issued to the company between Aug. 3, 2011, and Oct. 29, 2012.

The citations alleged multiple willful, repeat and serious violations of OSHA fall-protection, eye and face protection, safe-ladder and other standards.

In May 2013, U.S. Department of Labor filed a petition for summary enforcement pursuant to Section 11(b) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to enforce nine final orders of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission against the company.

Three months later, the court granted the department's petition, enforcing the final orders of the commission.

Violations Continue

On Sept. 12, 2014, the department filed a Petition for Civil Contempt against GP Roofing, alleging that the company had failed to comply with the court's August 2013 order, based on evidence that the company continued to violate OSHA standards and failed to pay the penalties assessed.

In an interview with Durability + Design News on Oct. 10, 2014, Perez said his business would fold within the month, admitting that his workers allowed the hazards in that specific case.

He further noted that he no longer knew how to force workers to take personal responsibility.

Perez did not express bitterness about OSHA in that interview. In fact, Perez said that he and the agency have had "pretty good talks," in which both parties expressed frustration about the lack of individual compliance with fall protection, even when the equipment is provided.

Contempt Issued

Still, on March 30, 2015, the circuit court held the company and its officers in civil contempt.

The court ordered GP Roofing to pay the outstanding penalties of $195,170 plus interest and fees, and also required it to certify that it had corrected the violations.

Kentucky Safety and Health Network

Kurt Petermeyer, the regional administrator for OSHA in Atlanta, says the enforcement action against GP Roofing demonstrates that the agency can and will take action against  violators who ignore safety.

The court's contempt order notified Perez and Maldonado that any noncompliance with the court's order would result in coercive sanctions, including incarceration. However, the contempt order was ignored and the 11th Circuit ordered the arrest of the company executives.

The pair was taken into custody June 16 and appeared before Magistrate Judge James Klindt, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida in Jacksonville. 

“This enforcement action demonstrates that OSHA can and will take action to ensure that standards are followed and that companies like GP Roofing that ignore multiple court orders requiring correction of violations and payment of penalties will be held accountable," said Kurt Petermeyer, the regional administrator for OSHA in Atlanta.

A call to a number listed for GP Roofing was not returned Friday (July 17).


Tagged categories: Business matters; Citations; Enforcement; Fall protection; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; North America; OSHA; Regulations; Roofing contractors; Roofing materials

Comment from Gregory Stoner, (7/27/2015, 4:17 PM)

Well I believe hell has frozen over. Not that OSHA should not do this it is such a long time in coming. What's next ??

Comment from peter gibson, (7/29/2015, 11:41 AM)

Well...they did a week; and still no payment.Now what?

Comment from M. Halliwell, (8/4/2015, 12:31 PM)

Maybe the second strike should be a 30 day stay if they still haven't been able to pay or can't / won't prove they can't pay. Up to the judge at this point and how much contempt he is willing to tolerate. If GP Roofing & Construction can't/won't get employees to follow the rules (and it's fairly simple...employees follow the rules, including the safety rules, or they get fired) then perhaps they need to take down their shingle (if they haven't already....yeah, I know...bad pun).

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