Setauket contractor faces $1.2M in proposed OSHA fines after fatality

DME Construction Associates Inc., a Setauket roofing contractor, faces more than $1 million in penalties after a federal investigation into a worker death last year found that the company failed to provide necessary safeguards against falls.

An investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the general contractor’s safety practices was prompted after an unnamed employee died Aug. 19 after falling 18 feet through an unprotected skylight while working at a Town of Oyster Bay municipal building, the agency said.

The site of the workplace death was a vehicle maintenance building at the Town of Oyster Bay’s Solid Waste Disposal Complex, located at 101 Bethpage-Sweet Hollow Road in Old Bethpage.

Officials with DME Construction did not respond to a voicemail message requesting comment. An attorney for the company did not respond to a phone call with their office seeking comment.

The company has 15 business days from receiving the citation on Feb. 22 to respond whether it plans to contest the investigation’s findings or resulting penalties. The company has requested an informal meeting with OSHA scheduled for March 8, the agency said.

OSHA issued nine “willful violations” following its investigation, eight of which are the company’s failure to give fall protection to each of the eight employees who worked on the roof at the site of the accident.

The federal agency has proposed $1.2 million in total penalties.

“DME Construction Associates Inc. has continually ignored its legal responsibility to provide a safe workplace and that failure cost a worker their life,” OSHA Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson said in a statement. “Ensuring worker safety is not an option.”

In addition to the unprotected skylight, OSHA said the company “exposed workers to (the risk of) falls of up to 22 feet” and did not give workers any personal fall protection equipment, according to a news release sent out by the agency Monday.

The proposed penalties are not the first time the company’s safety practices have been flagged.

DME Construction has been cited 7 times since 2011 for “fall-related hazards” and failing to give workers protection from falls through skylights and roof edges.

The company currently has more than $50,000 in unpaid fines, OSHA said.