A Dayton, Ohio-based roofing contractor is contesting U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration citations after a 60-year-old worker died last August from complications caused by heat stroke on an 82-degree F day.

The temporary employee of A.H. Sturgill Roofing Inc. had been working in direct sunlight on a commercial flat roof in Miamisburg, throwing rubber roofing material into a dump truck on the ground, according to OSHA. The employee, who was not named, had to be hospitalized Aug. 1 and died 21 days later.

The two serious violations are for failing to provide a program addressing heat-related hazards in the workplace and failing to train workers to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and take preventive measures. The total fine proposed is $8,820.

"Sturgill Roofing has a responsibility to mandate that workers take frequent breaks in the shade and drink plenty of water during adverse
heat conditions, which poses a risk of injury or death," said Bill Wilkerson, OSHA's area director in Cincinnati. "Employers must train their supervisors and workers to recognize the warning signs of heat illness and take appropriate action."

Officials for Sturgill, which builds industrial and commercial roofs, could not be reached for comment. The company's president, Allen Sturgill, told the The Dayton Daily News that his company had a good safety program and that the 82-degree temperature were "far from those typically causing heat stress."

The company’s lawyer, Bob Dunlevey, also told the Dayton Daily News that “OSHA is currently attempting to emphasize issues related to employee heat stress and to set precedent upon which OSHA can cite other employers in the future under its General Duty Clause — no specific OSHA standard exists as to heat stress issues, but Sturgill was still cited.”

OSHA spokesman Scott Allen said the main point of the proposed fine is to make the contractor compliant. “It’s not so much a penalty amount, as it is a matter of getting the company to correct violations to prevent it in the future,” he said.