Boston Construction Accident Triggers Ordinance for New Safety Rules

The tragic deaths of two workers in a Boston construction accident that saw a water main break flood an underground trench has spurred action from Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

On Monday, November 14, the Mayor Walsh filed an ordinance that will allow the City of Boston to deny, revoke or suspend work permits after reviewing a company’s safety history. Companies applying for work permits in the city will be required to disclose any violations with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), including current violations and past violations, even if they have been resolved.

Currently, companies do not need to disclose OSHA violations to the city and OSHA does not provide this information automatically, according to Mayor Walsh. No details were provided on what kinds of safety violations might lead to a permit denial, or what remedies companies with past violations would need to pursue to get a permit.

The ordinance must be passed by the Boston City Council. If passed, it will take effect immediately.

Mayor Walsh introduced the ordinance in response to revelations about the safety history of Atlantic Drain, which was found to have 24 OSHA violations over a decade prior to a Dartmouth Street construction accident that killed two workers. A water main break flooded a trench the workers were standing in, trapping them as water rose over their heads. Among Atlantic Drain’s violations was a failure to have rescue teams on standby for underground work, which may have contributed to the workers’ deaths.

As a strong supporter of workers rights, Sheff Law supports this move to provide greater transparency and worker safety by Mayor Walsh. Sheff Law has a strong history of supporting safe workplaces and representing workers harmed in construction site and workplace accidents. Douglas Sheff serves as chair of the Workplace Safety Task Force, which he helped create with the Massachusetts Bar Association to provide advocacy for workers on issues of safety.

Sheff Law provides free consultations for any injured workers in Massachusetts. If you or someone you  know has been injured in an accident, please contact us online or call us at 1-888-423-4477.

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