A new roof can yield a return of 75%, but at what cost? In the case of a South Florida roofing company, a new roof may cost a life. The U.S. Department of Labor is going after Latite Roofing and Sheet Metal, South Florida’s largest roofing contractor, in attempt to fine them for serious labor safety violations.
The incident, which occurred last year, involved the death of 55-year-old Robert Elliott, a Latite employee. Elliot passed away after getting struck by lightning while working on a roof during a storm. Despite the weather conditions, sources say that his supervisors told him to keep working.
On August 25, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited the Pompano Beach-based roofing company for six worker safety violations, half of which are considered serious. These citations were a direct result of multiple worksite inspections in multiple Miami-Dade County areas.
The proposed fines currently total around $136,500, and are for violations such as inadequate fall protection and improper use of step ladders. OSHA has stated that Latite Roofing has been cited for safety violations nine times in the past five years.
“Latite Roofing has an extensive OSHA inspection history, but continues to exposed employees to life-threatening safety hazards,” says Condell Eastmond, direction of the Dort Lauderdale OSHA. “Latite must assess its work practices immediately to ensure workers are protected.”
According to the Miami Herald, in a 2014 report, Latite was also one of the hundreds of contractors illegally misclassifying its employees and independent contractors for government building projects. This allows companies to be exempt from federal taxes, and to gain an unlawful advantage over competitors.
The company, who refused to comment to the media, has 15 days to respond to OSHA’s proposed penalties. They are also given the option to request a conference with OSHA officials, or fight the findings in front the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.