Owner of Roofing Company Arrested Following Two Fatal Falls, One In New Square

The proprietor of a contracting company, identified as Jose Lema, was apprehended at his residence in Nanuet on charges of failing to provide adequate fall protection for his employees. Lema, also known as Jose Lema Mizhirumbay, 40, is the owner of ALJ Home Improvements, Inc., a company hired for construction work in the Village of New Square.

Federal authorities revealed that on February 8, 2022, a tragic incident occurred at one of Lema’s worksites when one of his employees fell from the roof of a building under construction and lost his life.

According to reports, Lema assigned four workers to install a roof on a three-story multi-family apartment building that was still in progress. After climbing up a ladder to reach the roof, tragedy struck within just 20 to 30 minutes when one of the employees fell approximately 30 feet to the ground, resulting in a fatal outcome.

An investigation conducted by authorities unveiled a concerning lapse in safety measures. The victim was found to be wearing a safety harness at the time of the accident; however, it was discovered that there was no lanyard, rope, or any other attachment connected to the D-ring on the back of the harness, which would have secured him to the roof. Furthermore, there were no anchors on the roof that could have been used to attach a rope had one been provided.

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited ALJ Home Improvements for its failure to ensure that its employees were equipped with proper fall protection systems.

Disturbingly, this was not the first time that an employee of Lema’s company had suffered a fatal fall at one of ALJ’s construction sites, nor was it the first instance where workers were exposed to hazardous conditions. An earlier tragedy occurred on February 27, 2019, when an employee slipped and fell from the roof of a newly constructed three-story home in Kiamesha Lake, resulting in a 35-foot plunge and a fatal outcome. In this incident, the worker was not wearing any safety harness, and OSHA issued citations to ALJ for multiple violations, including the failure to ensure that employees were using fall protection systems.

Following the 2019 incident, ALJ reached a settlement with authorities and agreed to pay the imposed penalties. Shockingly, there were five additional incidents at different worksites in New York and New Jersey between the second victim’s death and the latest accident in New Square, raising further concerns about the company’s safety protocols. In each of these cases, ALJ reached settlements and agreed to pay penalties for their violations.

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