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OH Roofer Cited in Fatal Heat Stroke

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

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Federal regulators are holding an Ohio roofing company liable for the death of a temporary worker who suffered heat stroke on a commercial project last August.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited A.H. Sturgill Roofing Inc., of Dayton, for two serious safety violations and fined the company $8,820 in death of the 60-year-old worker.

The worker was hospitalized Aug. 1 for work-related heat exposure on a Sturgill work site in Miamisburg, OH. He died Aug. 22.

The worker was overcome while working in direct sunlight on a commercial flat roof, throwing rubber roofing material into a dump truck on the ground, OSHA said.

Commercial Roof - AH Sturgill
A.H. Sturgill

A.H. Sturgill Roofing Inc., of Dayton, OH, performs commercial and industrial work.

A.H. Sturgill, an industrial and commercial roofer, did not respond Tuesday (Jan. 29) to a request for comment.

Heat Dangers

The violations allege failure to:

  • Provide a program addressing heat-related hazards in the workplace; and
  • Train workers on recognizing the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses, including taking preventive measures, such as consuming adequate amounts of water.

A serious violation reflects substantial probability of death or serious physical injury from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"Sturgill Roofing has a responsibility to mandate that workers take frequent breaks in the shade and drink plenty of water during adverse heat conditions, which poses a risk of injury or death," said Bill Wilkerson, OSHA's area director in Cincinnati.

OSHA heat materials

OSHA has developed print and digital materials, including a mobile app, in English and Spanish to protect workers from heat illnesses.

"Employers must train their supervisors and workers to recognize the warning signs of heat illness and take appropriate action."

OSHA has developed heat illness educational materials and a curriculum for workplace training. In addition, a free OSHA app for mobile devices enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites.

The app displays a risk level for workers based on the heat index, as well as reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level. All of the resources are available in both English and Spanish.

Earlier Fatality

OSHA records show one other fatal accident involving Sturgill Roofing.

In 2004, a Sturgill employee died after falling 48 feet onto a concrete floor while working on a manufacturing plant roof. Sturgill was initially cited for seven serious violations and fined $8,700. The case was settled with three serious violations and a fine of $5,400.

OSHA records show no other citations against the company.

Protecting Contract Workers

The safety of temporary workers—also known as "contingent labor"—is the subject of a new white paper by the nonprofit Center for Progressive Reform.

"At the Company's Mercy: Protecting Contingent Workers from Unsafe Working Conditions" notes that more workers, including in the construction industry, are being employed on a contingency basis without protections afforded full-time employees.

At the Company's Mercy

A new report says that temporary workers in roofing and painting are often given more dangerous jobs.

"[B]ecause employers who hire workers on a contingent basis do not directly pay for workers’ compensation and health insurance, they lack sufficient incentives to eliminate workplace hazards," report CPR Member Scholars Martha McCluskey, Thomas McGarity and Sidney Shapiro, and Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Shudtz.

"Specifically, companies using contingent workers are likely to be insulated from the insurance premium increases resulting from the costs of workers’ injuries, and as a result, they are immune to the financial incentives to eliminate on-the-job hazards."

In construction, the report says, contingent workers "tend to take on some of the most dangerous jobs, such as general laborers, painters, and roofers. These jobs carry significant risks of musculoskeletal injuries, falls and nail-gun injuries, among other things."


Tagged categories: Accidents; Fatalities; OSHA; Roofing contractors; Workers

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