5 of the biggest OSHA fines of Q3 2023

One contractor faced citations across four jobsites with initial fines reaching over half a million dollars.

By: Zachary Phillips • Published October 26, 2023

As part of efforts to call out offenders and highlight safety best practices, OSHA frequently publicizes cases where inspections or investigations result in hefty fines. 

The biggest of these cases often involve residential builders that usually have a history of failing to provide workers with adequate protection from hazards — most commonly exposure to heights. In fact, the the agency recently revealed the most frequently cited standard was general fall protection requirements, with 7,271 violations in fiscal year 2023, which ended in September. Employers usually contest the fines and negotiate with the agency to reduce their cost.

Here are some of the largest initial fines highlighted by OSHA in the third quarter of 2023: 

JMH Roofing LLC
Fines: $548,801
Status: Contested

OSHA inspectors allegedly observed employees of Millersburg, Ohio-based JMH Roofing working at heights of up to 19 feet without fall protection at four residential roofing jobsites in Ohio, despite having fall protection available on site.

Within three months on these four sites, inspectors found workers at heights without fall or eye protection while using pneumatic nail guns, according to the release. The company also allowed employees to work without properly extended ladders. 

The eight willful and two repeat violations across four different citations resulted in fines totaling $548,801. 

Jonas Hershberger operates JMH Roofing and RAM Roofing LLC, and OSHA claims he has a “history of disregard for workplace safety regulations, with numerous citations to these two companies since 2018.”

A JMH spokesperson declined Construction Dive’s request to comment on the citations.

Cheltenham Construction Services
Fines: $334,618
Status: Informal settlement ($167,669)

Twice in two months, OSHA inspected a Washington, Missouri, siding contractor’s jobsites, finding it had allegedly exposed workers to fall hazards as they performed roofing and siding work.

The agency conducted two inspections — one in February 2023 in Lake St. Louis and another in April 2023 in O’Fallon — finding the Cheltenham Construction Services had permitted workers at heights above 6 feet without the proper fall arrest systems. In Lake St. Louis, the contractor allegedly failed to protect employees using nail guns from eye and face hazards, according to the release.

Across the two citations, Cheltenham Construction Services faces initial fines of $334,618 from two repeat and two serious violations. OSHA has cited the company seven times since 2015 for fall protection violations.

In an informal settlement, Cheltenham negotiated both of the citations down, and OSHA’s website lists the current penalties at a combined $167,669.

Construction Dive reached out to Cheltenham for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.

Avila’s Roofing LLC
Fines: $328,143
Status: Issued

An OSHA investigation into a Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, roofing contractor resulted in two willful, two serious and one other-than-serious violation, with initial fines totaling nearly $330,000.

The agency alleges it observed employees of Avila’s Roofing working at heights of up to 27 feet without fall protection in February, and also learned the company had not provided employees with effective safety training on fall hazards. The company also permitted the employees to work without eye and face protection, OSHA said.

The agency has previously proposed $178,649 in citations from five earlier inspections of Avila Roofing jobsites in Honesdal and Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Construction Dive reached out to Avila’s Roofing for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.

Sonny Steel Erectors Inc.
Fines: $266,416
Status: Contested

Houston-based Sonny Steel Erectors failed to correct fall protection hazards, an issue which the contractor had a history of, a federal OSHA investigation alleges.

Workers erecting a steel building in Cypress, Texas, in February allegedly did not have required fall protection. OSHA cited the company for one serious violation for not securing a ladder, one willful violation for allowing employees to work higher than 15 feet without fall protection and one repeat violation for failing to ensure employees in an aerial lift stood on the basket floor and had a body belt or lanyard attached to the boom or basket. 

The agency previously cited the steel erector company — which has about 50 workers, according to OSHA — in February 2019, July 2019 and October 2022 for failing to ensure a body belt or lanyard attached to the basket when employees worked in an aerial lift. 

Sonny Steel Erectors is contesting the fines. Construction Dive reached out to the company for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.

Troyer Roofing & Coatings
Fines: $205,369
Status: Contested

In March, an 18-year-old employee of a Missouri contractor fell over 22 feet from a commercial building’s roof and suffered serious injuries, resulting in his death. After the fall, Troyer Constructors — operating as Troyer Roofing & Coatings — allowed a foreman and another employee to continue working without fall protection, OSHA alleged. An inspection also discovered the Jamesport, Missouri, contractor had fall protection available, but let employees choose if they wanted to use it, the agency said.

In addition, the company did not teach workers how to use fall protection, train proper forklift operations, provide workers with face and eye protection or have written hazard communication for sealants and other chemicals, OSHA said.

OSHA cited Troyer Roofing & Coatings with one willful, three serious and one other-than-serious violation, proposing initial penalties of $205,369. The company is contesting the fines. 

A Troyer representative declined to comment on the citations.