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Roofing company fined $645,000 for fall hazards

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Roofing

A Washington roofing company faces $645,540 in fines for 21 safety violations related to exposing workers to potential falls and other hazards.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, the state’s monopoly workers compensation insurer, cited Mukilteo, Washington-based America 1st Roofing & Builders Inc. for violations discovered during four separate inspections beginning in August 2016, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the agency. Nine willful violations were issued to the company related to fall protection equipment and work plans for employees working 10 or more feet of the ground, including for one instance where an employee was observed working unprotected at 32 feet off the ground, according to the statement.

The agency said the company has been cited for repeat-serious violations of fall protection rules at least six times during the past three years.

“Seven construction workers fell to their deaths last year in our state,” said Anne Soiza, assistant director for the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “Falls are the leading cause of construction worker deaths and hospitalizations, and yet they’re completely preventable by using proper fall protection and following safe work practices.”

In addition, the company also received citations for unsafe ladder use, failure to conduct walk-around safety inspections, not requiring hard hats when working under overhead hazards, scaffold safety violations, failure to have an accident prevention program and not supplying a first-aid-trained employee on worksites.

The company has appealed the fines, the agency said.

"America 1st takes the safety of its workforce very seriously at all times, and disagrees with the Department of L&I’s assessment of the recent citations," said John Herzog, president and chief executive officer of America 1st Roofing, in an email Thursday. "America 1st holds the point of view that the recent citations will be vacated upon the conclusion of the appeal process."