Bobcat Forklift on Roof Leads to Major Fines for Staten Island Construction Company
In a year when construction accidents are on the rise in New York City, a Staten Island construction firm is paying the price for letting a Bobcat loose on an apartment building rooftop.
Brooklyn resident Tommy Demoneris, 55, of Telentos Construction, was charged with reckless endangerment after his company brought a one-ton Bobcat mini-forklift onto the roof of a six-story apartment building at South Beach Houses. Demoneris was cited by the New York City Housing Authority because he used the equipment without a permit and without determining whether or not the building roof could sustain the weight of the machinery.
SILive.com reports that the company is also in trouble for failing to erect a permanent guardrail on the roof to keep workers safe and prevent debris from falling over the edge. Instead, Demoneris used steel cables and orange netting.
Although no one was injured and the building was not damaged, Demoneris was arrested for putting lives at risk, according to a statement issued by Mark G. Peters, commissioner of the city Department of Investigation, and Acting District Attorney Daniel Master.
“The owner of this company decided to operate above the law and put the lives of New York City Housing Authority residents and coworkers at risk, according to the criminal complaint,” Peters said in the statement.
Demoneris had the Bobcat 453 Skid Steer Loader lifted onto the roof to scrape off roofing material, but he did so without first having an engineer assess the building and the roof. Even more durable materials, such as steel roofing, should be inspected before workers perform any major work in order to prevent injuries.
“In today’s work climate, it is important to assess each work site to insure the proper equipment and protective equipment is being used,” says Ray Farmer, President, American Metal Roofs of Northern Wisconsin. “By following the appropriate state building guidelines, these types of incidents can be avoided. We follow the state’s strict guidelines to ensure its business and homeowners property are protected from these types of concerns. Our employees are our number one asset and we firmly believe in providing the correct equipment and training to ensure each employee is protected to the best of their ability. Since opening our doors in 2007, AMR has not experienced any safety violations as a result of not following OSHA’s guidelines. We are proud of that achievement!”
Construction accidents caused 874 workers fatalities last year, according to statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Yet a June 2 piece from The New York Times reports that accidents surrounding construction sites are on the rise throughout New York City’s five boroughs, including Staten Island. As of June, eight people had died in construction-related accidents, the same as the grand total for 2014; in 2013, just three people died while working construction jobs.
That figure is at a high since 2008, when several incidents, including two falling cranes, led to 19 fatalities throughout the year.
Yet even nonfatal accidents can pose a serious risk in densely populated areas like Manhattan.
This spring, a 12-ton heating and air conditioning unit fell 30 stories onto Madison Avenue when it broke free from a crane. Although 10 people were hurt, none faced serious injuries.
As for Demoneris, he’s just lucky no one at his construction scene had been injured or worse. He faces a misdemeanor count of second-degree reckless endangerment, which could lead to up to a year in jail if he is convicted.