The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has gone to court to collect unpaid safety violation fines from a Scarborough roofing contractor who is under criminal indictment for a worker’s death.

Shawn Purvis stands in court during his arraignment Monday on charges in the death of a worker who fell from the roof of a house on Munjoy Hill in December. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

The action OSHA filed in U.S. District Court on Monday seeks to collect $54,353.21 from Purvis Home Improvement, Inc., the company owned and operated by Shawn D. Purvis, for job safety violations Purvis incurred in 2015 and 2018. Those fines were imposed before the fatal accident in December, although the federal agency says Purvis has refused to pay.

In those cases, OSHA inspectors found Purvis had repeatedly failed to enforce federal rules requiring each worker to wear fall-protection equipment if they are exposed to an unprotected drop of 6 feet or more.

Purvis has said he refused to pay the fines for years because he believes OSHA was not correctly enforcing its own rules and incorrectly classified the subcontractors that Purvis hired as employees.

Purvis said, as private contractors, his workers are responsible for following OSHA guidelines. He said he provides all of the equipment required to do so, but cannot force them to wear the harnesses or take safety precautions.

“This has been going on for years,” Purvis said in April. “I’ve been begging OSHA to take me to court. Everything at any job site that I do has 100 percent (of) the equipment on site to be OSHA approved. If subcontractors choose not to execute it that way, me, as not their boss, I can’t tell a subcontractor, ‘you have to wear this harness.'”

In the criminal case, Purvis, 44, faces manslaughter and workplace manslaughter charges in the death of Alan Loignon, 30, who plunged 21 feet to his death on Dec. 13 while working on a residential roofing project on Congress Street on Munjoy Hill. Loignon and Purvis are half-brothers, and have the same father.

Loignon was not wearing fall protection. He was rushed to Maine Medical Center after the fall, but was pronounced dead a short time later, police said.

Purvis pleaded not guilty Monday at his arraignment and remains free on personal recognizance. If convicted on the more serious manslaughter charge, he could face up to 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Thomas Hallett, who is representing Purvis in the criminal case, said he could not comment on whether Purvis intends to pay the fines or fight the levy against him because he has not yet been served with the lawsuit.

Legal experts and a roofing contractor advocacy group say Purvis is mistaken in his reading of the law.

“Whether a company hires subcontractors or employees doesn’t matter when it comes to workplace safety,” said Jessica Picard, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Labor. “General contractors are responsible for the overall safety of their work site, regardless of whether workers are employees or independent contractors.”

The National Roofing Legal Resource Center agrees, and published a guide for roofing contractors explaining their duties under the law.

Purvis’ history of OSHA violations dates to 2012, when he was fined $2,000 for failing to provide fall protection. Each subsequent violation against him in 2012, 2015 and 2018 garnered increasing fines.


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