City & State: Parents of Killed Construction Worker Defend State’s Scaffold Law

Written by Jon Lentz on October 25, 2013

As supporters and opponents of the state’s Scaffold Law gear up for a battle in Albany next year, the parents of a worker killed at a New York City construction site are calling on state legislators to keep the law on the books in order to prevent similar accidents.

The law imposes an “absolute liability” standard on contractors and property owners for gravity-related injuries at a construction site. Critics argue that the law fails to account for worker behavior and significantly raises project costs.

Its defenders point to cases like Michael Simermeyer’s. The 30-year-old was working on the No. 7 train extension in Manhattan in early April of 2012 when a frayed cable snapped, causing a crane to collapse and crush him.

Simermayer’s parents, Colleen and Michael Simermeyer, sent a letter to lawmakers this month arguing that proposed changes would remove an incentive for developers to take sufficient safety precautions.

“Michael often told us he didn’t feel safe working at the site, and even gave us instructions on what to do if he was in an accident,” Colleen and Michael Simermeyer wrote in the letter. “Workers shouldn’t be forced to sacrifice their safety because those responsible for work sites play fast and loose with safety laws.”

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