In a tragic and unexpected turn, a construction worker was killed while involved with a nighttime job on a southbound highway. On Wednesday, August 29, 2012, at around 11:30 pm, Robert Parrot of Fitchburg, a 46 year old employee of Liddell Brothers Incorporated, fell sixty feet from a median gap of the elevated highway, Interstate 91, just north of Exit 7. He landed next to the train tracks below.
The site of the accident sits west of The Republican’s Main Street office and the Peter Pan bus terminal. East Columbus Avenue and Gridiron and Liberty Streets run adjacent.
Parrot’s identity was withheld until the family could be notified. But state police confirmed him as the victim on Thursday night. Rail service was temporarily interrupted and Parrot was pronounced dead at the scene. State police bear jurisdiction over state highway-related incidents. But Springfield city police provided backup units. Springfield Lieutenant David Martin affirmed that the city police were present merely to assist the state police with their investigation.
Detectives with the Massachusetts State Police Crime Scene Service Section and members of the Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit assigned to the office of Mark G. Mastroianni, the Hampton District Attorney, are carrying out an ongoing investigation. An autopsy is being performed by the State Medical Examiner’s Office. Massachusetts Department of Transportation highway administrator Frank DePaola made a statement proclaiming that changes will certainly be made if the investigation reveals any safety lapses. DePaola also asserted that safety is the Department of Transportation’s number one priority.
Officials explained that Liddell Brothers Incorporated, situated in the South Shore town of Halifax, specializes in traffic services and highway construction. It is a family oriented business with over thirty-four years of experience in subcontracting, general contracting, and equipment rental.
But an article posted to www.wbur.com on December 3, 2009, listed Liddell Brothers Inc. as one of the “dubious contractors” to be awarded stimulus funds from the state. The piece affirms that Liddell carries a litany of workplace safety violations. In a 2007 document published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to their website, osha.gov, it is confirmed that Liddell Brothers Inc. “was cited for six alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards following an OSHA inspection begun when an OSHA inspector driving by the jobsite observed an employee working in an apparently unprotected excavation.”
The government agency “issued Liddell Brothers a willful citation, carrying a $42,000 fine, for the lack of cave-in protection. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.” Five other “serious citations” were issued, amounting to an additional $15,000 in fines. Brenda Gordon, OSHA’s area director for Braintree at the time said that “The potential for death or serious injury at this jobsite was real and present.” In 2009, an outcry for OSHA’s influence to be expanded was heard after another Liddell Brothers’ employee, Claudel Belizaire, 29, was killed and crushed by a truck.
The incident may be especially saddening because it occurred during Labor Rights week. Countless laborers across the country put life and limb at risk and deserve to know that their employers’ deem their safety the utmost priority. Despite the result, let’s hope this was the case with Robert Parrot. If you, or someone you know, have any questions or concerns about worker’s injury or compensation, please don’t hesitate to contact us.