Contractors fined for employee death |

Contractors fined for employee death

Two local employers have been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after a construction-site accident resulted in an employee’s death.

European Roofing Designs and Fenton Construction were both issued citations on Nov. 26 for “serious” violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

On Nov. 11 a platform that two roofers were standing on while working on the roof of a residence at the Circle-R Ranch in Woody Creek fell 22 feet to the ground from the prongs of a forklift.

El Jebel resident Everado Garcia Lopez, 25, was killed in the fall, and two other men were injured. All three men were employees of European Roofing Designs in the Aspen Airport Business Center. Fenton Construction is the general contractor at the job site, located 3.4 miles up Woody Creek Road.

After a workplace fatality, OSHA looks into whether any safety and health violations were present at the work site, including the inspection and accident history of the employer. Officers from OSHA’s Denver-area office interviewed everyone involved, and inspected the equipment and work site immediately after the accident.

The roofing company was cited for three separate violations, and faces a proposed penalty of $4,200. The general contractor was cited for one violation, and the proposed penalty is listed at $2,100.

According to the OSHA citation, European Roofing Designs failed to ensure that the employee “did not work from an unsafe platform held aloft by a rough terrain forklift” and that this condition exposed the employees “to hazards of fall approximately 22 feet.” Fenton Construction was cited for the same violation.

European Roofing Designs was also cited for not ensuring that the forklift operator was trained properly. The citation says the company did not properly certify that the forklift operator had been trained and evaluated as the law requires.

According to Herb Gibson, the director of OSHA’s Denver-area office, if the firms file notices of contest, they go before an administrative law judge from Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

“Employers have 15 working days to decide what options they want to pursue,” he said. “Most request an informal conference with me about these citations.”

Gibson said the process doesn’t preclude OSHA and the employers from negotiating a formal settlement agreement in lieu of a hearing. But if either party appeals what the administrative judge decides, it goes to the review commission of three members; any other appeals go to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

If the employers in this case do not contest the citations, both the citations and the proposed penalties become a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Gibson also said that the maximum penalty for a business after a serious violation is $7,000, but OSHA determines a penalty based on the size of a business. He said European Roofing Designs was fined more than Fenton Construction in this incident because they were cited for three violations, compared to Fenton’s one.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is]

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