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Repeat Violation Seen in Worker Death

Friday, July 25, 2014

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A Montana roofing contractor faces $14,000 in federal fines for repeatedly failing to provide fall protection for a worker—this time, with fatal consequences.

George Fifield, Jr., 51, a father of two and grandfather of three, of Missoula, MT, perished April 10 after falling nine feet from a roof in Florence, MT. Fifield was employed by Jared Langley Roofing and Remodel of Florence.

Family photo via Missoula Funeral Homes

George Fifield, Jr., 51, died after a nine-foot fall from a roof April 9 in Florance, MT.

According to OSHA, the roofing company did not have the necessary guardrails in place to protect workers from falls. Federal law requires roofers working six feet above the ground to have some form of fall protection.

Fifield was working on a crew that was removing shingles from a house. He was not wearing fall protection—a safety violation that drew OSHA citations to the company in January 2013.

He was transported to a Missoula hospital and died the next day.

Jared Langley Roofing could not be reached for comment Thursday (July 24).

Fines and Criticism

OSHA area director Jeff Funke said the fine was not designed to reflect the loss of a life.

“The goal is not to collect penalties or assess fines,” Funke told the Missoulian. “The goal is to have a deterrent effect so this never occurs in the future. It’s no way reflective of the fatality that occurred.”

Although Funke had told news outlets after the accident that Langley would be cited for failing to report the death within the required eight hours, no citation was issued.

“We take that requirement very seriously,” Funke told the news outlet. “If we are not informed in a timely manner, it impedes our ability to do an investigation.”

This week, OSHA authorities said they're extending extra fall hazard enforcement checks in and around Billings, MT, after golf ball-sized hail damaged 80 percent of the roofs in the area in May.

Repeat Violations

Langley has multiple repeat offenses with OSHA dating to 2004.

That year, OSHA found 15 violations, including lack of fall protection for employees. The initial penalty for the violations was $34,200. After negotiations, the company paid $15,000.

Jared Langley Roofing and Remodel

Jared Langley Roofing and Remodel has faced OSHA charges several times.

OSHA also cited the company in 2012 for five violations that included lack of fall protection and fall protection training. The settlement, reached in 2013, was negotiated to $6,000 from $10,400.

Wage Fraud

Fifield's death comes less than a year after Langley resolved a criminal wage-fraud case with Montana.

In October 2013, Langley pleaded guilty to a felony charge that accused him of lying about his roofing business to avoid paying workers' compensation premiums.

Langley contended that his company was a "clean-up" firm, which carries lower premiums than roofing.

However, investigators from two state agencies learned that Langley had obtained more than 370 roofing permits from 2007 to January 2012. He also bought $1.3 million in roofing materials from a Missoula roofing supply business during that time.

Meanwhile, while Langley did not pay premiums for roofing work, state officials said. Langley’s employees filed injury claims that were roofing related, authorities said.

As part of the plea agreement, Langley paid the Montana State Fund $200,000 in restitution in cash in June 2013.

Langley could have faced up to 10 years in state prison and a $50,000 fine. District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock deferred imposition of Langley’s sentence for a period of two years, subject to a number of conditions, including that Langley abide by all rules of probation and parole."

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Fall protection; Fatalities; Health and safety; OSHA; Residential Construction; Roofing contractors; Workers

Comment from Ronald Lewis, (7/25/2014, 4:48 AM)

Langley and the State Officials that didn't enforce these rules (Don't just blame Langley) Hey, Langley is a criminal - your state officials are also criminals!!


Comment from Ronald Lewis, (7/26/2014, 11:12 PM)

This, and similar previous similar incidents are being treated like a joke by quite a very persons at this point; why doesn't JPCL just move the event to your Jokes and Laugh column. That is how it is being treated. Ronald Lewis; and if this gets removed or edited then the editor needs to have their name added to the Jokes and Laugh column. Ron Lewis; Member for 45 or more years.


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