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Roofer Sentenced for Lying to OSHA

Friday, August 28, 2015

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The owner of an Alabama steel and roofing company has been sentenced to three years of probation and 30 hours of community service after lying to federal safety authorities regarding a March 2013 incident involving three injured workers.

Marcus Borden, of Russellville, admitted he lied to U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health inspectors about providing his crew with fall protection equipment.

© / Les Palenik

Marcus Borden lied to OSHA about providing his workers with fall protection gear after three workers were seriously injured at a jobsite in Cordova, AL. The image does not depict the parties involved in this case.

Borden pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to OSHA in May 2015. He was sentenced Aug. 6, authorities announced Monday (Aug. 24).

3 Workers Injured

The case stems to March 18, 2013, at a jobsite in Cordova, AL.

Borden had been supervising a five-person crew working on a roofing project when a severe thunderstorm struck, according to case documents.

During the storm, three of the workers were seriously injured. One suffered a left arm amputation after being thrown against the edge of a new metal roof. Another worker was thrown across the roof and suffered an injured shoulder.

The third worker was wrapped in a sheet of metal, managed to escape, but was carried by the momentum over the roof's edge and fell 30 feet to the ground, OSHA said. That worker broke his wrists, ribs, tail bone and pelvis in the fall.

None of the workers had been provided with fall protection equipment, nor were they tied-off to the roof at the time of the accident or had a means to exit the roof quickly, according to OSHA.

Lies Told

During OSHA’s inspection, Borden said he told an inspector he had been present on the jobsite on the day of the accident and that he had obtained personal fall arrest equipment to protect his workers from falls five days before the incident.

© / kavram

Borden had been supervising a five-person crew working on a roofing project on March 18, 2013, when a severe thunderstorm struck, according to case documents.

However, it was discovered that he actually retained the equipment on March 18, following the accident.

Borden also claimed that the employees had been tied off when he knew they were not.

Citations Issued

In September 2013, OSHA cited Borden for six safety violations, carrying $55,000 in fines.

According to the agency, a willful citation was issued for failing to provide workers with fall protection while working within 6 feet of an open edge that was 30 feet above the ground.

Additionally, four serious violations were cited for exposing workers to severe weather conditions and not securing metal decking during inclement weather conditions.


Falls are the leading cause of death in construction.

Borden was also cited for an other-than-serious violation for failing to notify OSHA about the workers being admitted to the hospital due to a work-related incident.

Case Settled

Borden initially contested OSHA’s citations, but later settled the case, agreeing to all violations as cited and the penalties assessed.

The settlement was approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and became a final order on July 23, 2014.

Charged and Sentenced

Nearly a year later, on April 6, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Borden with making false statements and lying to OSHA inspectors.

Borden pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements on May 13 in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Alabama.

"Marcus Borden provided false information to OSHA during the investigation and needs to face the consequences for his actions," said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA's regional administrator in Atlanta.

"The injuries sustained by the three employees could have been avoided if Borden had fulfilled his responsibility to ensure a safe working environment and provide the necessary protection to his workers."

OSHA has begun to refer more cases to the Justice Department for investigation and possible criminal charges, according to reports.


Tagged categories: Citations; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; Laws and litigation; North America; OSHA; Regulations; Roofing contractors; Workers

Comment from Guus van Wijk, (8/28/2015, 4:45 AM)

So, what happened with the workers now ? Did they get compensated ? Although on the otherside why did they not requested fall protection equipment ? And why did they keep on working while the storm was likely seen coming? In another article I read that 291 people died in a years time because they did not have fall protection given and or not requested. How many more people have survived a fall with or without injuries? It is not just the supervisor that fails, it is also the worker if he does not request fall protection. Maybe he is afraid of loosing his job or thinks that nothing will happen to him or thinks that he looks rediculous with a harnes working at jump high level. Man is not build to fall without injuries, not even from 3 feet. Fall protection is not 100% protection, but it is far better than without.

Comment from John Gillis, (8/28/2015, 10:17 AM)

Pretty likely the workers mistakenly stayed up too long. Pretty likely the crew manager mistakenly didn't require the men to come down. Clearly the company owner screwed up by making believe he had the fall protection. I've seen plenty of nasty storms come up quickly, but its hard to imagine you couldn't get off a roof in a couple of minutes to seek safety in a dangerous storm. It would have been better if the reporter reported on the actual men who got injured and how they were compensated by the company and their insurers and how the company was penalized by the insurer and civil litigation on behalf of the workers for not having fall equipment in place. The idea that the main issue is the penalty by OSHA should be a sideshow. It's so common that the Government gets "compensated" by taking in large fines, when all the money should be going to the victims.

Comment from peter gibson, (8/28/2015, 10:25 AM)

Pretty likely.....mistakenly stayed too long-really!

Comment from M. Halliwell, (8/28/2015, 10:51 AM)

It's pretty easy to get caught in that "just a couple more minutes" or "one last ______" thing with a storm. Most don't realize that the leading edge of a cold front (where there can be some intense winds) can extend many miles out in front of the clouds. I got caught in a sailplane in the front edge of a storm that a 737 had to go to an alternate landing site (I was that "one last flight" for the day), so I can certainly understand what may have happened on site....but the lack of fall protection blows my mind.

Comment from John Zellar, (6/25/2020, 12:07 PM)

Guss, I'm actually the compliance officer that investigated this case. I see you have many questions. Lets see if I can answer some of those for you. First, Mr. Borden was a sole proprietor conducting work a under his name, therefore, he was the company. On the morning of the incident he was aware of the potential high winds and knew that rain and wind could likely come in, but chose to keep working. If you reviewed the citations, that decision alone is what helped to secure a willful/criminal case. So when it comes to workers having the responsibility to ask for protection, they absolutely should, however, many times workers just do what there told so they can make money. It is not their burden to provide or even request, it's the burden of the employer to train and equip workers. Hello John - in this particular matter during my investigation the workers actually did make a request to terminate work based on the weather forecast that they had heard early that morning, however, Mr. Borden did not allow the work to stop. As far as getting off the roof, the employees did not have the means to get off the roof. They were accessing the 30-foot roof with a lift and another subcontractor was utilizing the lift when the storm began. To my knowledge the men that weren't hurt at all did not receive any compensation, and I believe the 3 men that were hurt may have fallen under Mr. Borden's WC. Outside of that they would have had to file a suit against Mr. Borden to receive additional compensation. I was a compliance officer for 10 years with OSHA. Penalties are just that! Required payment by the company for violations of not protecting employees on the job. The money collected by OSHA is placed in the governments general fund. The reason why the story makes the press is because it the penalties reached a point that generates a press release through OSHA protocol.

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