Contractor fined for death in Glen Cove warehouse


Investigators found that Noe Diaz-Gamez’ horrific death last April at a warehouse in Glen Cove could have been prevented. According to a release from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Elite Roofing Services Inc., the company who contracted Diaz-Gamez, was issued six willful violations for fall hazards — one violation for each exposed worker — and one serious violation for not training the workers. The proposed penalty is $522,527.
Diaz-Gamez, 26, died after falling 20 feet onto the concrete floor of a warehouse at 40 Garvies Point Road while installing metal decking on a flat industrial roof. He was airlifted to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, and later died of his injuries.
OSHA’s investigators learned the company did not provide the employees on the roof with protection against fall hazards, such as guardrails, safety nets, personal fall arrest systems, positioning devices or fall restraint systems. The work being completed fell under OSHA’s steel erection standard, and Elite Roofing Services Inc. failed to train each employee on recognizing and mitigating fall hazards before conducting the steel erection work.
Accidental deaths like what happened to Diaz-Gamez aren’t uncommon during construction projects. In 2021, nearly one in five workplace deaths occurred in the construction industry. Just over one-third of construction deaths were due to falls, slips, and trips. Of these, almost all were from falls to a lower level. The construction industry accounted for 46.2 percent of all fatal falls, slips, and trips in 2021.
Earlier this year, the Glen Cove City Council voted unanimously to require what’s known as the OSHA 30 training for projects starting at 20,000 square feet, requiring that workers complete a 30-hour OSHA safety training class. Safety requirements will require someone to be assigned to the site, ensuring that each worker has a 30 or 50-hour OSHA safety certificate. The permit applicant, holder, or any person performing work on behalf of the permit holder will need to certify to the director of the city’s building department, Scott Grupp, that the safety requirements have been met for the project and the workers who will work on it. No permit will be issued without a certification from the permit holder.

The idea was spearheaded by Councilwoman Marsha Silverman, who had been in talks with Vincent Alu, vice president of Laborers Local 66 and a certified OSHA instructor, along with Grant Newburger, a spokesman for the Building & Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk counties.
When asked about the findings of the investigation into Diaz-Gamez death, Silverman said that enactment and compliance with OSHA-30-legislation sooner might well have prevented the incident.
Alu said that he is in talks with major construction companies across Nassau and Suffolk counties to address the importance of the OSHA certifications, saying it’s necessary to bring the safety measures during a builder’s contract negotiations.
“Now that this tool exists, it’s time to start working it into the conversation,” Alu said. “ We’re still speaking with townships and builders to get this going.”
The self-paced courses range from $159 to $215 and are taken over the phone, or online. Students are issued a study guide and a card from the Department of Labor. While the completion card doesn’t expire, OSHA recommends taking its outreach safety training every four to five years to stay updated with the latest safety regulations and industry practices.
A permit holder must also maintain a daily log identifying each worker with proof of the safety certification. This log will be required as a prerequisite of a certificate of occupancy or completion for the project. The penalties for first time violations range from $1,000 to $10,000. For a second violation, penalties increase to $3,000 to $10,000, or 15 consecutive days of imprisonment.
“Despite knowing the risks from falls and the responsibility to safeguard its employees against them, Elite Roofing Services Inc. chose to disregard the law and the safety of its workers,” wrote Kevin Sullivan, OSHA area director, in a press release. “Supplying and requiring the use of fall protection equipment and training workers properly on its use can help prevent devastating consequences such as this from recurring.”