Roofing Companies Face More Than $750,000 in Fines Collectively for Repeatedly Putting Workers at Risk of Dangerous Falls
TUMWATER — Falling from heights is one of the leading causes of workplace deaths and serious injuries. Fall protection can be a lifesaver, but you have to wear it for it to work.
The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) recently issued a combined $768,000 in fines against three Washington roofing companies for allowing workers to roof on top of homes without using fall protection and for other safety violations.
“It’s frustrating to see these repeat offenders continue to blatantly disregard their employees’ safety and health,” said Craig Blackwood, assistant director of L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
Always Roofing of Snohomish County, Wilson Roofing and Construction LLC of Kirkland, and Valentine Roofing Inc. of Tukwila have a history of ignoring safety requirements. These new citations and fines are the latest.
Allways Roofing, Snohomish
With the most fines of the three, Allways Roofing was fined $425,000 for seven safety violations including two egregious, willful, repeat violations—the most severe penalty imposed by the state. The fines are for failure to use fall protection or use material roofing brackets as tie off points. L&I also cited the employer for lack of worker eye protection while using nail guns, improper ladder use, and other safety violations observed by inspectors at a Snohomish home.
Allways Roofing was fined $1.2 million six months ago for the same violations. And, about a year ago, it was fined nearly $375,000. The company has been, and will remain, in the Severe Violators Enforcement Program, subjecting the firm to greater scrutiny.
“That’s $2 million in fines over the last 12 months,” said Blackwood. “We won’t give up on our efforts to protect these workers no matter how many times we have to inspect, cite, and fine the company.”
Allways Roofing has had at least seven serious injuries including five falls from heights and two eye injuries from nail guns.
Wilson Roofing & Construction LLC, Kirkland
Not far behind is Wilson Roofing & Construction, fined $247,000 for six safety violations including two egregious, willful, repeat violations for lack of fall protection and other safety violations while roofing a home in Ferndale.
During an inspection, three roofers were seen wearing harnesses that were not attached to tie off ropes while working on a steep pitched roof with a fall height of about 22 feet.
In the last three years, L&I has inspected Wilson Roofing & Construction twice following falls from heights, which hospitalized employees. In March 2019, the company was cited and fined $42,000 for not ensuring fall protection was being used by its roofers. Wilson Roofing & Construction is now considered a Severe Violator.
Valentine Roofing Inc., Tukwila
A homeowner in Lake Tapps contacted L&I after she photographed employees of Valentine Roofing working up to 16 feet high on the roof without wearing fall protection and without using eye protection while using a nail gun.
State inspectors said they also observed skylights and roof holes that did not have guardrails to prevent workers from falling through.
L&I fined Valentine Roofing $94,000 for four serious safety violations. The agency has inspected the company nine times over the past three years and cited it repeatedly for fall protection violations.
Allways Roofing and Wilson Roofing have appealed the citations and fines. Valentine Roofing has until Jan. 27 to file an appeal.
“Falls are the most common cause of death in construction,” said Blackwood. “If this continues, it’s just a matter of time before another injury or fatality occurs at one of these companies. L&I is working diligently to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Preventing falls in construction
Information and training are key to preventing this type of workplace tragedy. L&I developed a fall protection digital tool to help employers and workers learn the fall protection rules and other ways to stay safe on the job. If you see roofers working without fall protection, you can report it anonymously online or call L&I at 1-800-423-7733.
Verify a contractor
Homeowners should do their homework as well. When hiring a company for roofing or any other construction project, use our Verify a Contractor tool to make sure the business is registered. You will see if the company is licensed, bonded and insured. Hiring an unregistered contractor puts you at financial risk if anything goes wrong on your project. The form will also tell you if the company has a history of violating safety rules.