The heat is on

The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission vacates heat hazard citations issued to a roofing contractor

In a vigorously contested and closely watched case that attracted national attention, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has vacated an Occupational Safety and Health Administration citation issued to a roofing contractor under OSHA's general duty clause for allegedly exposing employees to excessive heat. In a long-awaited 2-to-1 decision issued Feb. 28 in the case Secretary of Labor v. A.H. Sturgill Roofing, Inc., the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission ruled OSHA failed to prove the conditions at the job site demonstrated the existence of an excessive heat hazard.

Facts of the case

The case originated Aug. 1, 2012, when NRCA member A.H. Sturgill Roofing, a commercial roofing contractor in Dayton, Ohio, was working on a reroofing project at a PNC bank branch in Miamisburg, Ohio, removing the existing EPDM membrane and STYROFOAM™ insulation. A.H. Sturgill Roofing was using an 11-person crew, including three temporary employees from a staffing agency. One of the temporary employees, referred to in the case as "MR," was a 60-year-old man with various pre-existing medical conditions, including hepatitis C and congestive heart failure. Although MR had experience with construction and roofing work, his most recent assignment had been working the night shift in an air-conditioned printing facility.

Roofing work on the PNC project began between 6 and 6:30 a.m. A.H. Sturgill Roofing's foreman was Leonard Brown, who had 18 years of roofing experience at the time. Brown was responsible for training temporary employees assigned to his crew. On MR's first day working for A.H. Sturgill Roofing, Brown took MR, who was wearing all black clothing, to the roof and showed him the safety warning lines. He told MR it was going to get hot and showed him the water coolers on the roof and told him if he needed to take a break to let him know.