OSHA Inquiry Into Ortiz Death May Take Six Months; Contractors Already Back to Work

File photograph. (Image licensed by Ingram Image.)

The survey of circumstances leading to the sudden death of Haverhill roofer Carlos Ortiz may take several months, WHAV has learned. (File photograph)

The federally-mandated investigation into the workplace death of Haverhill roofer Carlos Ortiz may take up to six months to complete, a spokesman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration tells WHAV.

Employed by River Street’s Progressive Roofing at the time of his death, Ortiz was working at 98 Essex St., on a roof nine stories up when he fell though what is believed to be an elevator shaft on Dec. 18. As WHAV previously reported, the job site was immediately shut down by Haverhill’s Director of Health and Inspectional Services Richard MacDonald after police were called to the scene at 10:20 a.m., but contractors have since resumed work at the location of Ortiz’s death.

Initially under investigation by Haverhill and State Police, the accident was turned over to OSHA as soon as the workplace safety agency opened a case on Dec. 18. OSHA spokesman James Lally tells WHAV the government group plans to scrutinize not only the circumstances leading up to Ortiz’s death but also the John Hostetter-owned Progressive Roofing, which has been in business since 1998. The OSHA investigation runs concurrent to that of the Essex County District Attorney, and looks into potential violations of the OSHA act rather than the cause of Ortiz’s death.

Among those back to work at the Essex Street job site is NEI General Contracting, the Randolph-based firm overseeing construction of apartments at the site.

Documents uncovered by WHAV show that the Dec. 18 incident is not the first time NEI was subject to an OSHA investigation. In 2016, the firm was slapped with a fine of $10,267 after a subcontractor in Dorchester came into contact with an exposed electrical conductor and was shocked.

NEI did not end up paying the penalty and the inspection violations—originally categorized as “serious”—were deleted as part of a settlement agreement, OSHA representatives told WHAV.