March 11, 2015
Serial violator Stephen Lessard faces contempt charges
for ignoring OSHA safety hazards, failing to pay $400K in fines
Roofing contractor flouts prior court order; continues to put workers at risk of falls
BOSTON – A Maine roofing contractor's continued refusal to obey a federal court order to correct safety hazards and pay more than $400,000 in fines could send him to jail.
The U.S. Department of Labor has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit in Boston to hold Stephen Lessard in civil contempt for defying a December 2011 court order to correct violations cited by the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and pay $404,000 in fines and interest levied from 2000 to 2011.
During that time, his companies, Lessard Roofing & Siding Inc. and Lessard Brothers Construction Inc., both located in Greene, Maine, were cited for safety violations 11 times at 11 different work sites in Maine. Each time, Lessard did not respond and the citations turned into final orders, requiring him to provide OSHA with proof of correction and payment of the assessed fines. When he again refused to act, the department sought and obtained the court decree.
"This is scofflaw behavior by a serial violator who demonstrates contempt — not only for the law and the U.S. Court of Appeals, but for the safety and lives of his employees," said Maryann Medeiros, OSHA's area director in Maine. "What's especially disturbing is that many of the violations involve fall hazards, which are the primary cause of death in construction work, the industry in which Mr. Lessard and his companies operate."
"We have asked the court to subject Mr. Lessard to strong sanctions, including incarceration if necessary, should he continue to flout the law and the court's earlier order," said Michael Felsen, the department's regional solicitor of labor for New England. "Seeking a contempt order, such as this, is a stringent and infrequent action, but one that is more than warranted in this case."
Despite all this, Lessard continues to break the law. In January, OSHA cited* him for egregious willful, repeated and serious violations for fall-related hazards at a Lewiston, Maine, work site and fined him $287,000.
Senior trial attorney Maureen Canavan of the Regional Office of the Solicitor in Boston will litigate the case on behalf of OSHA. The petition was filed by the Occupational Safety and Health Division of the Solicitor's office in Washington, D.C.
Falls are the leading cause of death in construction work. Preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that four workers died in construction-related falls in http://go.usa.gov/3anaY in 2013. To raise awareness of fall hazards and safeguards among workers, employers and the public, OSHA has created a Stop Falls web page with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards. The page offers fact sheets, posters and videos that vividly illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Augusta (207-626-9160) or Bangor (207-941-8177) Area Offices.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov/.
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Perez v. Lessard Roofing & Siding Inc., Lessard Brothers Construction Inc. and their successors and/or alter egos No. 11-2372
Release Number: 15-344-BOS
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