Yonkers Contracting Cited for Lack of Crane Safety

Lack of Crane safety procedures lead to fatality in New York. Lack of crane safety, led to a preventable fatality at a New York Construction site. On their official company website, Yonkers Contracting Company is described as a well-established construction organization with technical, financial, and managerial strengths that enable them to consistently deliver safe, high quality projects to clients. Michael and Colleen Simermeyer would probably disagree with this claim. The Simermeyer’s son Michael Simermeyer, Jr died on April 3, 2012 when a 110 foot crane owned by Yonkers Contracting collapsed. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also disagreed and cited Yonkers Contracting Company with ten serious safety violations. In addition, Yonkers Contracting along with subcontractor, J&E Industries could possibly be charged with $75,000 in fines.

Before starting work at a family member’s construction company J&E Industries, Michael Simermeyer Jr. was unemployed for several months. He came from a family of construction workers. His father and a second cousin also worked for J&E Industries. Simermeyer’s nickname was Vader because he resembled the professional wrestler. He had loans to repay for classes he enrolled in at electrical trade schools. As a result, he felt extremely lucky to be working at the No. 7 subway line job site in Manhattan. He was convinced that the operation followed all possible safety procedures, including crane safety.

Crane Safety Deficiency Only Part of Ongoing Violations

Yonkers Contracting Company has experienced trouble in the past with construction projects in New York City. In 2000, a painter died after falling from the Manhattan Bridge. Several previous investigations involving Yonkers Contracting have resulted in acquittals and dropped charges. Unfortunately, these tragedies happen too often in New York City. Four years ago, nine people lost their lives in two separate crane accidents in Manhattan.

Regarding the April 3rd Yonkers Contracting incident, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited the construction company for allowing construction worker’s inside the crane’s fall zone, not ensuring a rig was adequately trained, and failing to properly inspect the wire ropes used to hoist materials.  All of these were cited in the crane safety negligence. Kay Gee, OSHA’s Manhattan director stated Michael Simermeyer’s death could have been prevented if proper crane safety procedures were followed. Gee went on to explain fundamental, vital, and required safety practices were not followed. OSHA alleges Yonkers failed to conduct required inspections that could have identified rope defects. The company disputes these allegations stating the wire rope used for hoists at the construction site was inspected at the beginning of every shift by competent personnel.

Michael Simermeyer’s mother, Colleen is livid about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) decision to fine Yonkers Contracting a mere $68,000. She feels her son was murdered. The New York City Department of Buildings was scheduled to thoroughly inspect the crane in January. When officials arrived for the inspection, the crane was in operation. The inspection appointment was re-scheduled for a later date. The next inspection was supposed to take place two days after the crane collapsed.

OSHA has several resources for companies that operate cranes on a regular basis, including their Cranes and Derricks in Construction page at their website.

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