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Contractors Face Fines for Death of Worker in Crane Collapse

MANHATTAN — Two construction companies have been slapped with a combined 11 safety violations and up to $75,000 in fines in connection with the death of a worker crushed by a crane in April.

OSHA inspectors cited Yonkers Contracting Co. and subcontractor J&E Industries for serious worker safety violations at the site of the 7 subway line extension at West 34th Street and 11th Avenue, where 30-year-old Michael Simmermeyer was killed when a crane boom fell on him on April 3, 2012.

"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," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director in Manhattan, in a statement. "Had the proper procedures been followed, this incident and this worker's death could have been prevented."

OSHA inspectors found that Yonkers Contracting failed to conduct required inspections of wire ropes used to hoist materials — including the rope that broke and sent the crane boom plummeting onto Simmermeyer. OSHA cited the company for 10 serious safety violations, including allowing a worker inside the crane's fall zone, and not ensuring that the worker who loaded the crane was properly trained.

J&E Industries was cited for not training workers adequately. Yonkers could be fined up $68,000 and J&E Industries could face fines of up to $7,000. J&E Industries could not be reached for comment late Friday.

Yonkers Contracting challenged OSHA's findings. The company said in a statement that it would "defend itself with extensive evidence and documentation" and prove its workers inspected the hoisting rope at the start of each shift.

"It should also be noted that there were no findings of any willful negligent conduct on our part," a company spokeswoman said in a statement. "Yonkers Contracting has a solid safety record.  Since the accident, we have done a thorough review of safety procedures at all of our worksites 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."