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PA Roofer Cited in Fatal Fall

Monday, January 13, 2014

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A Pennsylvania roofing contractor that employed a worker who was killed in a 45-foot fall last June faces $71,600 in federal fines for exposing workers to fall hazards without protection and other serious safety violations.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Jenkintown-based James J. McCullagh Roofing Inc. for 10 alleged safety violations, including three willful, the agency’s highest level of infraction.

Fall protection
Images: OSHA

Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.

The citations were announced Wednesday (Jan. 8).

McCullagh Roofing could not be reached for comment Friday. A number listed for the company has been disconnected.

Tragedy was Preventable

OSHA said the worker, who was not identified, fell 45 feet from a roof on June 21, 2013, while performing roofing repairs on the Old Zion Lutheran Church in Philadelphia.

The fall occured because the roof bracket scaffold the worker was standing on collapsed. Two employees had been working on the scaffold, designed to hold one worker, according to the citation documents.

"This tragic accident could have been prevented had the company provided the proper fall protection for employees," said Jean Kulp, acting director of OSHA's Philadelphia area office.

“It's vital that these hazards be corrected to protect employees in the future.”

Alleged Willful Violations

The three willful violations were due to a lack of fall protection for employees performing roofing work as high as 45 feet from the ground level and a lack of fall protection for employees working from a roof bracket scaffold.


OSHA said the company improperly erected a roof bracket scaffold and it was loaded in excess of its intended maximum load.

The willful violations carry fines totaling $42,000.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Alleged Serious Violations

In addition, OSHA hit McCullagh Roofing with seven alleged serious violations due to the company's failure to:

  • Ensure only one employee, not two, worked from a scaffold platform that was only intended to support one employee;
  • Ensure a roof bracket scaffold was not loaded in excess of its maximum intended load;
  • Properly erect and attach a roof bracket scaffold for employees performing roofing work on the scaffold;
  • Provide training for employees involved in erecting, disassembling, moving, operating, repairing, maintaining or inspecting scaffolds;
  • Provide employees working 45 feet above the next lower level with the correct type of rope lifeline;
  • Restrain the ends of the scaffold platform; and
  • Provide the proper anchorage points for personal fall arrest systems.

The violations carry penalties ranging from $2,800 to $7,000.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

No Prior Record

The company has no record of past violations with OSHA, according to a review of the agency’s database.

McCullagh Roofing has 15 business days from receipt of the current citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Philadelphia, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


Tagged categories: Contractors; Enforcement; Fall protection; Fatalities; OSHA; Regulations; Roofing contractors

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