Following 2 accidents, Suffolk stops work on Boston jobsites

Dive Brief:

  • Following two jobsite accidents that injured workers, Boston-based contractor Suffolk voluntarily paused all projects in its home city on Thursday and Friday for a safety stand down. 
  • At the 776 Summer Street redevelopment project in South Boston, a catwalk at the old power plant building collapsed on Wednesday, injuring three workers, a Suffolk spokesperson told Construction Dive. 
  • Rubble pinned one worker by the legs for three hours Wednesday, with several first responders working to free him as a surgeon treated him on the scene, WBUR reported. OSHA has opened inspections into Suffolk Construction, Northstar Contracting Group and TRC Companies, the three employers on the project.

Dive Insight:

The safety stand down, Suffolk said, will involve a comprehensive review of safety standards and procedures. 

“We have been working closely with OSHA, our subcontractor and the local authorities to determine the cause of [the catwalk] incident and confirm the safety of the site,” Suffolk told Construction Diva in a statement. “Safety on our jobsites continues to be our No. 1 priority and we will continue to do whatever it takes to ensure our workers return home safely at the end of every work day.”

In a separate incident Thursday, a worker at another Suffolk site was rushed to the hospital after a 30-foot fall, according to NBC10 Boston. The worker is expected to survive.

Last year, footage showed several steel beams falling at a Suffolk jobsite at Boston University, though Ralph Esposito, president of the firm’s Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region, told Construction Dive no workers were hurt.

Boston safety

The number of overall workplace deaths in Boston has increased — from 45 workplace deaths in 2020 to 62 in 2021 —  as the city’s economic recovery continues, according to a report released late last month from the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health and the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. 

In 2021, construction accounted for nearly 30% of workplace fatalities in Boston.

OSHA appears to be understaffed in Massachusetts, the report said, because it was able to open only 38 inspections for all workplace fatalities in the city in 2021. At the same time, MassCOSH noted a 46% reduction in penalties from inspections, though 85% of violations were serious, willful or repeat violations.

Suffolk isn’t the only builder facing recent safety incidents in Boston. Last month, demolition worker Peter Monsini died when a concrete slab fell on from the ninth floor to the eighth floor at a Government Center Parking Garage being built by John Moriarty & Associates.

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