I read with renewed dismay Tuesday’s story about a contractor charged with the accidental death of a worker on his crew (“Roofing contractor pleads not guilty in worker’s death,” Page B1). A front-page photo referring readers to the story showed the defendant, Shawn D. Purvis, in a courtroom, but I did not see another plausibly culpable party: the regulators.

The work undertaken by the deceased, Alan Loignon, was considered so dangerous and potentially deadly that laws requiring safety equipment were instituted. The article states that Mr. Purvis faced $44,000 in fines over a decade or more for repeatedly violating those laws, but the fines were never collected.

For all intents and purposes, those who oversaw Mr. Purvis’ working permits and licensing engendered his dangerous behavior, as there was no actionable penalty for him to discontinue it. They’re also complicit in the worker’s death, as, it seems, was Mr. Loignon for his own noncompliance, unfortunately.

While Mr. Loignon suffered the worst of all possible “accidents,” what actually happened was a known, preventable and potentially deadly probability. Mr. Purvis weakly claims he could not force the use of the available safety equipment. To the extent that Mr. Loignon was doing the work to get paid, all Mr. Purvis had to say was that if he saw or heard of people not wearing safety gear, they would not be paid – removing all incentive to set foot on the job site without the requisite safety gear.

Similarly, if the enforcement agency had either shut down Mr. Purvis or enforced collection of the $44,000 in fines levied, his incentive to continue ignoring the noncompliance would have been greatly diminished.

How many more instances of drivers with suspensions and/or revocations injuring other motorists, landlords with many infractions and unpaid fines placing tenants in mortal danger and dire workplace-safety violations placing employees in harm’s way do we need to see before we say, “Enough”?

Mike Del Tergo


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