HO-HO-KUS, NJ – Vigorous litigation by the U.S. Department of Labor has convinced a New York roofing company to stop contesting the egregious willful and other citations it received and the $687,536 penalty assessed after a 2022 workplace safety investigation at a Ho-Ho-Kus worksite. On March 1, 2024, ALJ Home Improvement, a contractor with an extensive history of fall hazard violations, filed a notice of withdrawal with the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The Nanuet, New York-based company’s action came one week before a scheduled trial litigated by the department’s Office of the Solicitor in New York. As a result, the commission has affirmed the citations issued by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration including three per-instance egregious willful fall protection violations, a willful unsafe ladder violation and four serious violations and their related penalties.The action follows an August 2022 OSHA inspection at a Ho-Ho-Kus residential construction site where a compliance officer observed multiple ALJ Home Improvement employees working on a steep-slope roof without fall protection. OSHA found violations related to fall protection deficiencies, unsafe ladder use, additional ladder-related hazards and lack of head protection at the Bergen County location.The inspection came less than six months after an ALJ employee suffered a fatal workplace fall in Spring Valley, New York. The incident led company founder and principal Jose Lema to plead guilty in February 2024 to criminal charges filed by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in July 2023. Sentencing is scheduled to take place in May.“Our strong litigation strategy ended ALJ Home Improvement’s attempt to contest OSHA’s findings and allowed the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission to affirm the company’s per-instance willful citations and a substantial penalty,” explained Regional Solicitor Jeffrey S. Rogoff in New York. “The department’s Office of the Solicitor takes seriously its responsibility of holding employers like ALJ Home Improvement accountable for repeatedly disregarding vital safety requirements.”“By affirming our investigative findings and upholding ALJ Home Improvement’s penalties, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has sent a clear message to employers whose egregious actions show continuous disregard for worker safety,” said OSHA Area Director Lisa Levy in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. “The message is simple: we will hold you accountable for deliberately putting workers at risk.”Senior Trial Attorney Jacob Heyman-Kantor with the Office of the Solicitor in New York led the department’s litigation efforts and OSHA’s Hasbrouck Heights Area Office conducted the investigation.ALJ Home Improvement is active in Rockland, Orange, Westchester and Dutchess counties in New York and Bergen County in New Jersey. Since 2019, OSHA has inspected the company 10 times and cited multiple fall-related violations, including after company employees suffered fatal falls in 2019 and 2022. Learn more about OSHA, fall protection in construction and protecting roofing workers.Julie A. Su, Acting Secretary of Labor, U.S. Department of Labor v. ALJ Home Improvement Inc. OSHRC Docket No. 23-0332

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