Fatal South End Trench Collapse Inspires New Workers’ Safety Bill in Massachusetts Legislature

Workers’ safety was front and center at the Massachusetts State House on October 23, as members of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) gathered to remember two workers killed when a South End trench collapsed and flooded.

Speaking to the media, family members of the two workers killed called on lawmakers to support a bill introduced by State Representative Byron Rushing of Boston. The bill, H.3633. would require any contractor applying for work in the Commonwealth with a value of more than $50,000 to disclose any Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations that resulted in fines or judgements during the past four years.

Subcontractors would also be required to disclose any OSHA violations, and both contractors and subcontractors would need to demonstrate steps taken to remedy problems revealed by OSHA investigations. For long-term contracts, both contractors and subcontractors will be required to update OSHA compliance information once every six months.

As written, Representative Rushing’s bill does not provide any penalties for contractors or subcontractors who fail to provide complete data when bidding on state contracts, nor does it exclude contractors with OSHA violations from winning state contracts. It is reasonable to envision a scenario where a contractor with a poor safety record is the only bidder for a state contract and wins by default.

We are glad to see the legislature working towards accountability for employees and safety for all workers.

Sheff Law has extensive experience in representing people hurt in construction site accidents in Massachusetts. Every Sheff Law client gets a team of attorneys assigned to their case, which helps us earn superior settlements for those hurt or killed on the job. For a free consultation, call us at 1-888-423-4477 or contact us online.

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