Nanuet contractor faces $687K more for safety violations after workers’ deaths

A Nanuet-based roofing contractor faces an additional $687,000 in fines to continue to ignore warnings to protect workers after two died in falls, the US Department of Labor announced Friday.

ALJ Home Improvement Inc. already owes the government $1.3 million in unpaid fines from 2022, bringing the total penalties to nearly $2 million, a Labor Department spokesperson said on Friday.

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The agency fined ALJ in August after a worker fell to his death from the roof of a three-story residential construction project in Spring Valley on Feb. 8, 2022. Another employee died in February 2019 in a fall at a Kiamesha Lake work site in the Sullivan County town of Thompson.

Despite fines and warnings, ALJ continued to violate federal safety regulations, spokesperson Leni Fortson said.

The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited ALJ with eight more violations – four willful and four serious. The violations bring an additional $687,536 penalty for lack of fall and head protection and violations of multiple standards.

When an OSHA inspector arrived at a Ho-Ho-Kus work site, he observed three employees on a roof 18 feet above the ground without required fall protection, the department said. ALJ Home Improvement was contracted to remove an existing roof and re-install shingles on a single-family residential structure.

By law, residential construction employers generally must protect workers against falls with guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems when they work six feet or more above lower levels, as well as provide personal protective equipment to protect against bodily injury.

Prior to the latest citations, seven federal workplace safety inspections in the last four years identified 33 violations, nine of them wouldful failures to provide required fall protection.

“Since 2019, two employees of ALJ Home Improvement have suffered fatal falls and ALJ continues to callously ignore the law and blatantly jeopardize the safety of its workers,” said OSHA Area Director Lisa Levy in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.

Levy said the “company repeatedly refuses to comply with OSHA standards and make worker safety a priority, choosing instead to put profit over the lives of its employees. The reality is that a safe workplace is actually a more profitable workplace.”

Fortson didn’t know why ALJ continued to have a license. Fortson said the regulations allow the Labor Department to refer cases with serious violations for criminal prosecution. Fortson said that has not yet been done in this case.

The company’s president, Jose Lema, could not be reached for comment on Friday. He previously said he would take care of the issues with the government. He didn’t, according to Fortson.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

ALJ Home Improvement is active in Rockland, Orange, Westchester, and Dutchess counties in New York and Bergen County in New Jersey.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 986 construction workers died on the job in 2021, with 378 of those fatalities related to falls.

OSHA’s stop falls website offers safety information and video presentations in English and Spanish to teach workers about fall hazards and proper safety procedures.

Steve Lieberman covers government, breaking news, courts, police, and investigations. Reach him at [email protected]. Twitter: @lohudlegal.

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This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Nanuet roofer owes more for safety violations after worker deaths