Alabama roofer fined $117K after child worker falls 50 feet to his death

Published 11:59 am Wednesday, February 7, 2024

An Alabama roofing company has been fined more than $117,000 for violating federal labor laws after a child they hired to work for them fell 50 feet to his death on the first day on the job.

Apex Roofing & Restoration LLC paid $117,175 in civil money penalties after the U.S. Department of Labor determined that the Pelham roofing contractor employed a 15-year-old child in violation of federal child labor laws, resulting in the child’s death at a Cullman worksite.

On July 1, 2019, a teen reported to the worksite for the first day on the job.

While working on the roof of a Cullman Casting Corporation building, the teen worker fell approximately 50 feet to the floor below, suffering fractures of the wrist, skull and ribs, among other severe injuries. The teen was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division found Apex Roofing illegally employed the teen in violation of a Fair Labor Standards Act child labor hazardous occupation order that prohibits workers under the age of 18 from engaging in dangerous jobs designated by the act, including roofing or construction operations. After an investigation, begun in 2019, the agency assessed the civil money penalty of $117,175 through the child labor enhanced penalty program. This program increases penalties to address violations that cause the death or serious injuries of any worker under the age of 18.

“Apex Roofing risked the life of a child by employing him to work on a roof in violation of federal child labor laws, leaving relatives and friends to grieve an unnecessary and preventable tragedy,” said Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman. “The Wage and Hour Division will continue using every tool at our disposal to combat illegal child labor and hold violators accountable.”

The roofing company issued a statement after the ruling:

“We at Apex Roofing & Restoration are truly heartbroken by the senseless death of a minor at a job site in 2019. The tragic incident occurred when a subcontractor’s worker brought his sibling to a worksite without Apex’s knowledge or permission,” a spokesman wrote in the written release.

“Apex has a long-standing policy prohibiting any form of child labor. In addition, since that accident, Apex has implemented a number of measures to further strengthen job site security and safety. Our hearts are with this family and any family who suffers a loss.”

In fiscal year 2023, the Wage and Hour Division found child labor violations in more than 950 investigations, resulting in more than $8 million in penalties assessed to employers.

Workers and employers can call the division confidentially with questions and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including child labor regulations on dangerous jobs that are prohibited for workers under age 18. For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the agency, contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).