Statement Regarding Contractor Appeal of OSHA “Wrist Slap” iIn Death of Construction Worker

NEW YORK, NY (Oct. 10, 2012) – Lawyers representing the parents of killed construction laborer Michael Simermeyer, 30, say they are in shock after the New York crane contractor announced its appeal of a $68,000 Federal fine for serious safety violations that allegedly led to their son’s death.

David L. Kwass, of Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, P.C., said the parents (father Michael worked with his son at the Manhattan subway construction site where his son was killed) were initially stunned by the small Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalty and then incensed that the Yonkers Contracting Company, owner of the crippled crane that snapped then crushed their son, decided to fight the “slap on the wrist” rather than take responsibility and be held accountable.”

“Imagine being Colleen and Michael Simermeyer and first being told that your dead son’s life was worth so little, ” commented Kwass, “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 it own checkered history.”

Published reports and the public record reveal that Yonkers Contracting is no stranger to controversy over its safety record and questionable business practices. For example, in 2010 a former vice president was convicted on federal charges of soliciting kickbacks on a public works project. And in 2000 one of its painters died after falling from the Manhattan Bridge. Other safety-related investigations reportedly resulted in acquittals and dropped charges. Prior to the OSHA report, the city’s Buildings Commissioner said that his department’s investigation found “defects in the hoisting system” of the crane that failed.

In its preliminary accident investigation, OSHA stated that Simermeyer’s death last April 3 could have been avoided if Yonkers followed safety procedures for inspecting and maintaining its crane. The allegedly unsafe crane was due to be inspected by New York City officials two days after the incident. “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,” reported OSHA. “Had the proper procedures been followed, this incident and this worker’s death could have been prevented.”

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