Company Cited For Crane Accident That Killed Burlington City Man

A New York company whose crane crashed to the ground at a Manhattan subway construction site, killing a worker from Burlington City, has been fined $68,000 for violations related to the April accident.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Yonkers Contracting Co. with 10 violations in the April 3 crane collapse at the No. 7 subway line extension site at 34th Street in Manhattan.

Michael Simermeyer, 30, was killed when the crane crashed on top of him in the construction pit.

OSHA also cited Simermeyer’s employer, subcontractor J&E Industries, with one violation related to the accident.

The citations were announced last week by the federal agency, which found that Yonkers Contracting had not conducted required inspections of wire ropes used to hoist materials, including the boom hoist that broke and caused the fatal collapse. Inspections are required before each work shift, OSHA said.

The company also was cited with violations related to ensuring proper training of crane riggers, permitting a worker inside the crane’s fall zone and failing to conduct required annual functional testing of the hoist.

“Fundamental, vital and required safety practices were not followed in this case, resulting in the most extreme consequence: the loss of a worker’s life,” Kay Gee, OSHA’s area director in Manhattan, said in a statement. “Had the proper procedures been followed, this incident and this worker’s death could have been prevented.”

A representative of Yonkers Contracting said the company would challenge the agency’s findings in an administrative hearing.

“We disagree with these preliminary findings and are prepared to defend ourselves with extensive evidence and documentation. For example, we will show that the wire rope used for hoisting materials was inspected at the beginning of every shift by licensed and properly trained personnel,” said Heather Cuffel, the company’s director of business development.

“Yonkers Contracting has a solid safety record. Since the accident, we have done a thorough review of safety procedures at all of our work sites and taken steps to further ensure that all requirements are followed. Safety is our top priority, and we are committed to following all required standards.”

Information was not available about whether J&E Industries planned to contest its lone violation, which carries a $7,000 fine.

Attorneys representing the victim’s parents, Michael and Colleen Simermeyer, said the couple were “stunned” by OSHA’s penalty and “incensed” that Yonkers Contracting was fighting the charges.

“Imagine being Colleen and Michael Simermeyer and first being told that your dead son’s life was worth so little, and then learning that the contractor was not only appealing the decision but publicly claiming it has a ‘solid’ safety record. Clearly, Yonkers is a callous and irresponsible company that hasn’t reviewed its own checkered history,” said David L. Kwass of the law firm Saltz, Mongeluzzi and Bendesky of Evesham.

Simermeyer graduated from Burlington City High School in 2000 and then went into construction work.

Friends held a vigil last week at Kennedy Park in Burlington City marking the six-month anniversary of his death.

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