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Roofer Fined $115K in Paralyzing Fall

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

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A commercial roofing contractor whose employee was paralyzed in a 20-foot fall is facing a $115,500 fine and three willful federal safety violations in the case.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Ryan Roofing Inc., of Salina, KS, with three willful safety violations after a worker fell 20 feet from the roof of a commercial building in Hoisington, KS, on Oct. 3, 2012.

The worker suffered a broken neck and was paralyzed in the fall. The case has placed the company in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which targets what OSHA calls “recalcitrant” employers with follow-up inspections.

The company was also cited for fall-protection and training violations in May 2011 and paid a fine of $6,750 (reduced from $9,000).

Ryan Roofing Inc.

Ryan Roofing was cited and fined in 2011 for fall-protection violations. This time, the company faces three willful violations—OSHA's highest level of infraction.

Ryan Roofing is a 27-year-old company that installs and services roofing systems for commercial, industrial, and institutional customers.

Ryan Roofing did not respond to a request for comment.

Willful Violations

Willful violations are OSHA’s most egregious level of infraction, and multiple willful violations in one case are rare. Willful violations reflect “intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health,” according to OSHA.

In this case, OSHA said, the contractor failed to:

  • Ensure the integrity of a roof structure where employees were working;
  • Provide and use fall-protection systems on a low-sloped roof; and
  • Provide training on fall protection to workers.

According to the citations, the employees were working on a roof surface comprised of three layers of gypsum decking without anyone having determined whether the surface was strong enough to support them.

They were also working without any fall protection and had had no training in fall protection, OSHA said.

Stopping Falls

"It is unacceptable that Ryan Roofing knowingly failed to evaluate working conditions and provide workers with fall protection to prevent severe injuries," said Charles Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, MO.

"Falls remain the leading cause of death and injury in the construction industry, and companies who perform this type of work must take responsibility for protecting their workers on the job."

Under the Severe Violator Enforcement Program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities if it has grounds to believe there are similar violations at related work sites of the employer.


OSHA's Stop Falls campaign seeks to reduce the toll from construction's most common cause of death.

OSHA has created a Stop Falls web page with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards. The page offers fact sheets, posters and videos that vividly illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures.

OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection, such as guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems, be in use when workers perform construction activities six feet or more above the next lower level.

Ryan Roofing Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Commercial contractors; Fall protection; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; OSHA; Roofing contractors; Worker training

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