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OSHA has cited the owner of Saco, Maine-based Purvis Home Improvement for egregious willful, repeat, and serious workplace safety violations, according to a news release. The enforcement action from the agency comes after the death of an employee in December 2018. According to the Portland Press Herald, the 30-year-old roofer fell from the third-story roof at a Portland, Maine, jobsite. Purvis faces a total of $1,792,726 in penalties.

Purvis was indicted on charges of workplace manslaughter for the death of his employee and has been sued by the family of the roofer. OSHA has also taken Purvis to court, seeking to collect $54,353.21 for previous safety violations Purvis incurred in 2015 and 2018.

In their inspection of the worker's death, OSHA investigators 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, Maine. Purvis has argued in court that he is not an employer and instead hires independent subcontractors. He has also argued that while he encourages workers to use safety gear he provides, he cannot force them to comply.

OSHA said because of Purvis' "knowledge of the hazard and required safeguards" and his extensive history of violations, the agency fined him for 13 egregious willful violations—one for each exposed employee per jobsite—for failing to ensure fall protection. Each egregious citation carries the maximum allowable penalty of $132,598. OSHA has cited Purvis seven times for violations of fall protection requirements since 2006, levying more than $44,000 in fines. Purvis was cited twice in 2012, once in 2015, and once in 2018. Purvis has refused to pay the fines because he believes OSHA was not correctly enforcing its rules and incorrectly classified subcontractors as employees, according to the Portland Press Herald.

"Effective fall protection can prevent tragedies like this when an employer ensures the proper use of legally required lifesaving protection," OSHA Augusta, Maine, 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."

Purvis has 15 business days from the receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with his OSHA area director, or contest the findings.