The owner of a Maine home improvement company faces a manslaughter indictment and a nearly $1.8 million fine over the death of an employee last year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
OSHA cited Shawn D. Purvis, owner of Purvis Home Improvement Co. Inc., for egregious willful, repeat, and serious workplace safety violations.
The Saco, Maine, roofing contractor faces a total of $1,792,726 in penalties following the death of an employee in Portland on December 13, 2018.
OSHA inspectors found that Purvis knowingly failed to ensure the use of fall protection by his employees at the Portland worksite, and at a separate worksite in Old Orchard Beach.
Due to Purvis' knowledge of the hazard and required safeguards, along with an extensive history of violations, OSHA cited him for 13 egregious willful violations—one for each exposed employee per job site—for failing to ensure the use of fall protection.
Each egregious citation carries the maximum allowable penalty of $132,598.
OSHA also cited Purvis for failing to provide fall protection training to his employees, and for exposing them to electrocution and eye hazards.
Seven Previous Citations
OSHA has cited the owner for seven violations of fall protection requirements since September 2006.
"Effective fall protection can prevent tragedies like this when an employer ensures the proper use of legally required lifesaving protection," OSHA Area Director David McGuan said.
"An ongoing refusal to follow the law exposes other employees to potentially fatal or disabling injuries. Employers cannot evade their responsibility to ensure a safe and healthful worksite."
The worker, Alan Loignon, 30, was not wearing federally required fall protection when he fell to his death from the roof of a three-story house.
Purvis, 44, faces one count each of manslaughter and workplace manslaughter in Loignon's death. The manslaughter charge carries a maximum 30 years in prison and up to a $50,000 fine.
Purvis said his workers were actually subcontractors, not his employees, so he cannot force them to comply with federal standards.
Purvis has been arguing this point for 12 years with OSHA inspectors and has refused to pay the agency over $44,000 in fines levied against him.
Grand Jury Indicts
On April 5, 2019, a Portland grand jury indicted Purvis for manslaughter and workplace manslaughter, charging that his repeated violations of OSHA's fall protection standards caused his employee’s death.
OSHA offers compliance assistance resources on fall hazards on the OSHA Fall Protection webpage.
Purvis had 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The case is believed to be only the second time Maine prosecutors have pursued charges under the workplace manslaughter statute, which is a subsection of manslaughter and carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The first incident was in 1991.