Officials with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration have proposed citations totaling $313,500 against three companies involved in a deadly crane collapse at a high-rise residential-building site March 15 on East 51st Street in New York City, where six workers and a bystander died under the crush of a falling tower crane.

"Ultimately, the crane collapse was a failure to follow basic, but essential, construction safety processes," says Richard Mendelson, OSHA's Manhattan area director, in a statement issued Sept. 15.

Under federal statute, OSHA has six months to propose safety and health violations following a workplace accident.

The most serious penalties are levied against Rapetti Rigging Services Inc., Massapequa Park, N.Y., which was responsible for erecting, jumping and dismantling a Model M440E Favelle Favco tower crane at the site. It collapsed suddenly during a climbing maneuver near the 18th floor. The firm faces three "willful" and five "serious" citations totaling $220,000.

Among other things, Rapetti failed to follow the crane manufacturer's sequences, provide edge protection for synthetic slings, inspect slings before use and discard slings that were damaged before rigging them, the citations allege.

Joy Contractors Inc., Elizabeth, N.J., and Reliance Construction Group, Parsippany, N.J., have also been issued "serious" citations related to the accident. Joy also faces a "repeat" violation related to an alleged lack of fall protection on the job.

The firms, which could not yet be reached for comment, have 15 business days to appeal the penalties.