Three Contractors Fined in March Crane Collapse

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The New York Sun

A federal agency hit three construction firms with penalties totaling $313,500 today for alleged safety violations leading to the collapse of a tower crane that killed seven people on Manhattan’s upper east side last March.

The citations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration named the general contractor, Reliance Contractors Group, the crane erector, Rapetti Rigging Services, Inc., of Massapequa Park, N.Y., and the concrete subcontractor on the project. Joy Contractors Inc., of Elizabeth, N.J.

The charges ranged from failure to properly train employees about job site hazards to allowing fire, falling and other hazards to exist. OSHA said Rapetti had failed to comply with the crane manufacturer’s specifications when erecting and raising the steel tower, and to provide for protection against workers falling. One of its employees was killed.

The 19-story tower crane broke away from a luxury apartment building under construction and fell like a tree across other buildings as far as a block away. A brownstone town house was demolished, and some area residents later said they had been fearful that the crane was unstable.

A city construction site inspector was later charged with falsely claiming he had inspected the crane 11 days before the mishap.

“Ultimately, the crane collapse was a failure to follow basic, but essential, construction safety processes,” the area director of the OSHA, Richard Mendelson, said in a statement.

The incident on East 51st Street, in busy midtown Manhattan, was one in a wave of fatal construction mishaps in the city dating back to last year. On May 30, another tower crane broke apart and fell on an apartment building, killing two workers. Other crane operations were suspended temporarily.

“This case illustrates in stark terms that failure to follow required procedures can have wide-ranging and catastrophic consequences,” the assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, Edwin G. Foulke Jr., said.

Reliance Construction Group and Joy Contractors did not immediately return calls seeking comment. No phone listing for Rapetti was found in Massapequa Park.

According to OSHA, Reliance Construction Group was issued 11 citations totaling $19,500 in proposed penalties, Rapetti Rigging was issued three with penalties totaling $220,000, and Joy Contractor was issued one repeat and 14 serious citations worth $74,000.

The New York Sun

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