Articles Posted in Construction Accidents

Research indicates that about 70 construction workers die each year from trench cave-ins. Most commonly, a worker is injured or killed when a trench collapses and buries the worker under dirt or debris. Construction is one of the most dangerous professions in America, responsible for 899 worker deaths in 2014.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines a trench as “a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide, and is no wider than 15 feet.” This means that some trenches can be much deeper than 15 feet, which poses a serious risk of fatal falls in addition to cave-ins.

Workers can also be harmed by hazardous conditions that come from being underground, including toxic environments, electrical accidents, gas line ruptures and water main breaks, the latter of which claimed the lives of two workers in Boston recently.

Criminal charges have been filed against the owner of Atlantic Drain Services, a Hyde Park drain cleaning company, following the October death of two workers. Kevin Otto, the company’s owner, is facing two counts of manslaughter, as well as charges that he misled investigators and concealed records after the trench collapse that killed Kevin Mattocks, 53, and Robert Higgins, 47.

The two Atlantic Services employees were killed when a water main broke, flooding the 15-foot-deep trench they were working in. According to the Boston Fire Department, the trench lacked necessary safety protections, including a trench box. A trench box is a steel or aluminum structure that protects workers in a trench, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), strictly requires trench boxes for trenches deeper than five feet.

According to Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, “The evidence has established that the defendants were well aware of this shoring requirement, as well as the grave danger that workers would be exposed to without it, because they’d incurred two separate OSHA violations in the past 10 years for failing to follow it.”

If you are injured on-the-job, workers’ compensation usually steps in to cover damages, from medical expenses to a portion of lost wages. Workers’ comp is even available if the accident was your fault. But what if the accident was a result of another’s negligence? If you fall off scaffolding because you weren’t paying attention, that’s not negligence. But if you fall off scaffolding because no harness was provided, negligence might be a factor. If you have been injured in in a construction-related accident, contact a MA work injury lawyer today.

What’s a Third-Party Lawsuit?

Here’s the thing about workers’ comp – it prohibits you from suing your employer. But what if another party was responsible for your injuries. If a third-party vendor or contractor played a role in your injuries, you may be able to file a third-party lawsuit in addition to your workers’ comp claim. If you are injured at work, you can file for workers’ comp which will provide benefits to you while protecting your employer from being sued. If the accident occurred because the brand new crane you were working on malfunctioned, you may be able to sue the crane manufacturer for defective design or faulty equipment. This is known as a third-party lawsuit. Site owners, general and sub-contractors, and equipment manufacturers are the most common types of third-party players in the construction industry.

The construction site owner and contractors may also be liable for injuries, depending on the circumstances. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that general contractors and sub-contractors provide a safe working environment at all times. Further, it is their responsibility to ensure that work safety regulations are followed. They may do this through observation and trainings, adherence to codes, and by providing safe, well-maintained equipment. If general and sub-contractors fail to meet these requirements, they may be liable for damages if an accident occurs. Equipment manufacturers can also be liable if a piece of equipment is found to be defective, or if proper instructions for safe operation are not provided. If you have been injured in a work-related accident, contact a Boston work injury lawyer today.

Photograph, Document, Record

Documentation is key if you believe that negligence played a role in your work injury. It is crucial to keep medical records, collect witness statements, and take photographs of any evidence or relevant information. Jot down the location of the accident, and any pertinent details about the construction site. If a third party was negligent, you may be eligible for additional compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, transportation costs, and more. Keep in mind, however, that third-party lawsuits are complex matters. The help of a skilled injury lawyer will greatly improve your chances of success.

Wrongful Death

If a loved one suffered fatal injuries in a construction-related accident, the family may be able to file a wrongful death claim if the accident was due to another’s negligence. In some cases, multiple lawsuits, including wrongful death, product liability, and personal injury, may be filed. Continue reading

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has declared the death of a worker at a Bellingham Massachusetts used auto parts business as preventable, and the result of a lack of proper safety training.

The employee was inflating a tire while working at John’s Used Autos and Parts LLC when he was struck in the head by a “chain come-a-long” device that is used to mount rim wheels onto tires. The incident occurred on Oct. 31, 2016 and the employee perished from his injuries on Nov. 11.

An investigation into the workplace fatality was launched by OSHA’s Braintree office and found that the employer did not:

A contract packaging company based out of Dudley, MA is facing hefty fines from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after their negligence and subsequent actions seriously endangered one of their temporary workers in May of 2016.

On May 26, 2016, an improperly-trained temporary worker for Shield Packaging Co. Inc., which specializes in filling, packaging and shipping products stored in pressurized aerosol cans, was cleaning the filling nozzles along a production line when the equipment unexpectedly turned on, violently piercing his finger with the sharp filling nozzle and “inflating” his arm with pressurized, propellant gas.

The incident alone was gruesome enough, but Shield Packaging truly blundered in their reaction to the horrible accident. The worker’s employers did not even call 911 in the immediate aftermath. The injured employee was the one to initiate a 911 call. After the call was made, the employee was taken in a private vehicle to the hospital where they underwent emergency treatment and was hospitalized.

Working in the elements has special risks during every season, but Massachusetts winters can be especially challenging. If you work outside for at least part of the day, it’s crucial to utilize safe practices at all times. The information below addresses some of the most common winter weather-related work injuries and how to avoid them. If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident, it’s important that you know what benefits that are available to you immediately and in the long term.

Slip and Fall Accidents

When ice, snow, and freezing rain are a daily occurrence, it’s especially important to take precautions in the workplace. In addition to slippery walkways and parking lots outside, workers can track snow and slush into buildings, resulting in indoor puddles and the potential for slip and fall accidents. Follow the steps below to reduce the risk of weather-related falls at work:

  • Put salt on icy walkways and parking lots and keep them as clear of snow as possible.
  • Inside each doorway, place a non-skid mat to absorb excess snow and slush.
  • When any area becomes slippery – whether inside due to tracked snow or a spill, or outside due to ice or slush – place cones around the hazardous area.

Back Injuries

Whether they are due to excessive shoveling, lifting heavy construction equipment, or slipping on an icy or wet surface,  back injuries are common among workers who are forced to brave the winter elements. The most common winter weather-related back injuries include sprains and strains, fractures, overexertion injuries, and lacerations. To reduce the risk of back injuries at work, follow the tips below:

  • Take frequent breaks when shoveling or lifting heavy objects on the job.
  •  Stretch for several minutes to warm up your muscles.
  • Employers should provide shovels specially designed to reduce back strain.

Cold Weather-Related Injuries

Being outside in below freezing temperatures for extended periods of time can result in serious – even fatal – complications. Hypothermia, frostbite, and cold stress can wreak havoc on the healthiest, toughest workers. Dampness and wind can amplify the dangerous effects of cold weather, and it doesn’t even have to be freezing outside; frostbite and hypothermia can sneak up on you. To prevent dangerous cold weather-related conditions:

  • All workers should be trained on how to protect themselves from temperature-related injuries.
  • When temperatures are low, workers should take frequent breaks in a warm environment to get their internal temperature back to normal.
  • Workers should drink warm drinks throughout the day, such as hot tea, coffee, or hot apple cider.

Work injuries are an unfortunate reality, but we can take steps to dramatically reduce our risk of serious injuries and death on the job. Although all jobs carry some risk, certain occupations – such as construction and roofing, farming and logging, corrections and law enforcement – carry a disproportionately higher risk. In 2015, there were nearly three million reported nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  If you have been injured at work, contact a MA workers’ compensation lawyer today. Continue reading

Every year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) releases a report of the 10 most commonly cited violations for that year. The agency obtains this data from the tens of thousands of workplace inspections it conducts annually. Interestingly, the list remains fairly constant from year to year. Read on for more information about OSHA’s top ten safety and health violations and how you can avoid becoming a statistic in a serious, or fatal, workplace accident.

More than 4,500 workers are killed in a work-related accident annually, and about three million are injured. These numbers are staggering, especially considering that employers are responsible, by law, to provide and maintain safe work environments. The top 10 violations below contribute to the majority of these injuries and fatalities. If you have been injured on the job, contact a Boston work injury lawyer today.

  • Fall protection: Falls are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the United States, and most of these occur in the construction industry. Without proper protection, such as harnesses and anchors, fall-related deaths increase significantly.
  • Hazard communication: When hazardous chemicals are present, workers have a need and a right to know. Hazard communication refers to the process of identifying hazardous substances, notifying workers of the presence of hazardous substances, and informing workers of protective measures necessary to avoid injury or death when working with, or near, said hazardous substances.
  • Scaffolds: Scaffold violations are often a contributing factor in fatal falls. Considering that about 65 percent of the construction industry works on scaffolds, preventing scaffold violations would dramatically reduce annual injuries and deaths in this industry.
  • Respiratory protection: Exposure to asbestos, chemicals, and other toxic substances can result in long term health problems. Sudden chemical spills can even cause immediate death. Proper respiratory protection is essential to prevent long-term damage and sudden death in an emergency situation. Unfortunately, lack of adequate respiratory protection is one of the most commonly cited OSHA violations.
  • Lockout / tagout: These violations often result in gruesome injuries and deaths from machines that start up suddenly. Lockout / tagout refers to the process of turning machines off and ensuring they can’t be turned back on while being worked on.
  • Powered industrial trucks: Forklifts and powered industrial trucks are responsible for significant injuries and deaths every year. In nearly all fatal cases involving one of these machines, workers were not properly trained on safe operation, or other OSHA violations were a factor.
  • Ladders: Ladder violations often contribute to fall injuries and deaths.
  • Machine guarding: Similar to lockout / tagout, machine guarding refers to the installation of machine guards to protect arms, hands, legs, and feet from injury, amputation, or worse. Failure to properly guard machines is a common OSHA violation.
  • Electrical wiring: It isn’t difficult to understand why electrical violations can spell disaster. Electrocution can be immediately deadly. Therefore, proper precautions and safety training are essential for jobs involving electrical work.
  • Electrical, general: Ditto, above.

Most of the above violations occur in the construction industry. Unfortunately construction is an inherently dangerous field. However, risks and hazards can be dramatically reduced, along with your risk of serious injury and death, when OSHA regulations and standards are followed. If you notice an on-the-job hazard, report it to your supervisor immediately. If your supervisor doesn’t promptly respond to your concerns, you can always contact OSHA. If you have been injured in a work-related accident, contact a Boston work injury lawyer today. Continue reading

Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, is calling for more stringent regulations regarding construction companies getting bids to perform work in the Massachusetts metropolitan center in the wake of two construction workers being killed while conducting routine work in a trench in October.  The two workers were killed after a water main break flooded the trench with water and debris and were unable to escape. An initial investigation revealed that the trench was not safeguarded against potentially catastrophic cave-ins or collapses because the contractor did not implement the use of a “trench wall,” which braces against both sides of the trench during work.

Subsequent investigations by WGBH showed that the construction contractor, Atlantic Drain Services (based out of Roslindale, MA), had been cited 13 times by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the past five years, including a citation for placing its workers underground without the proper safety and rescue precautions in place.

The tragic incident has led to outrage over the fact that Atlantic Drain Services was given the bid for construction despite their checkered past with safety violations, which are a part of the public record and available to anybody who requests the data. It is indeed alarming that city officials would not check out such a history before awarding a construction bid for potentially dangerous work.  The incident is still being investigated by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and OSHA itself, and it is likely that serious fines will be levies onto Atlantic Drain Services for their negligent and ultimately deadly failings to provide a safe work environment for their employees.

Construction work requires exceedingly careful precautions

Construction work is consistently amongst the most dangerous work for American employees, causing 899 deaths in 2014. About 70 of those deaths happened as a direct result of trench work, which often puts workers in toxic, cramped, and potentially deadly environments where cave-ins, electrocution, and respiratory arrest is a common threat to safety.  OSHA has a lengthy list of regulations regarding trench work. Regulations include ensuring that the trench is properly protected against cave-ins by using various methods, that a competent supervisor watches all activity to ensure proper protocols are being used, and that there are rescue measures at the ready to save any workers who are suddenly put in danger.

In the case of the two Boston workers who perished, their deaths are on the hands of multiple parties, including the Boston officials who allowed Atlantic Drain Services to obtain the construction bid and the decision-making entities of the construction company who allowed the work to move forward despite proper safety precautions to not be in place.

Hold negligent construction firms accountable

New and serious regulations are absolutely an essential part to prevent future tragedies such as the one that occurred in October. The other part is to hold any firms who don’t take safety measures seriously enough accountable for their negligence.  The construction contractor is completely liable for any legal suits that come their way as the result of the deaths of two of their workers. A worker death does not just affect the deceased, but also any and all members of their families who depend on their income. The emotional trauma is bad enough without having to worry about how the money that they used to make will be replaced, if it can be at all. Continue reading

Another Massachusetts construction worker has passed away following an accident during routine trench work in Duxbury, MA when a power saw kicked back and made lethal contact with his throat.  The Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office does not suspect foul play, and the incident is under investigation now by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to determine what caused the saw to become “bound” and subsequently injure the worker.

The tragic accident occurred during routine trench work on Saturday, Nov. 19 in Duxbury when workers were excavating an underground water line. At least one other worker was involved in the activity but was not harmed.

Trench work is dangerous work

This event, and an incident in October that claimed the lives of two workers in Boston, puts an unfortunate emphasis on how dangerous construction work – and work in trenches, specifically – truly is. In 2014, 899 construction workers died while working on the job, and about 70 construction workers die each year from accidents involving trenches.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines a trench as “a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide, and is no wider than 15 feet.” This means that some trenches can be much deeper than 15 feet, which poses a serious risk of fatal falls in, addition to the most common form of trench work deaths – cave-ins.

There are many health regulations put in place by OSHA and state agencies that regulate trench work, including always securing each side of the wall, providing fall protection, designing protective measures such as properly sloping at least one wall of the trench in the event workers have to get out quickly.  Additionally, foremen and workers on site must always be aware of changing conditions in the trench and in the surrounding soil. They must also be aware of any seismic activity, even from something as simple as traffic passing nearby.

Of course, in accidents such as this most recent and unfortunate one in Duxbury, no amount of cave-in prevention can prevent a tragic death involving a power saw. It is cases like these that must prompt construction companies to learn how to better protect their workers from each of the unique dangers that exist on a job site. Trenches are tight quarters to work in, so there should always be additional precautions when working with dangerous power tools. Continue reading

The workplace is the backbone of American society and where millions of Americans earn their livings. Unfortunately, many careers and employers subject their workers to dangerous environments, tools of trade and procedures in order to get work done.  It can be as simple as a fall from a platform during construction, or something more complex like developing tinnitus after frequenting a loud work environment with inadequate or deficient ear protection. Regardless of the type of injury or severity, as a worker, you have rights.

Workers’ compensation is right to continue earning money despite being unable to perform your work duties. Employees and their loved ones have the right to workman’s compensation for injuries sustained while on the job that cause death, partial or total disability, and disfigurement or loss of function (such as permanent scars). In Massachusetts, workers are entitled to 60% of their weekly wage in disability payments.

Expectation of safety

In addition to providing proper compensation for workers injured while on the job, employers – big or small – are required to upkeep a safe working environment and to implement adequate safety protocols when performing dangerous work is unavoidable.  Overseen and enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Labor, these strictly-enforced regulations help ensure that employers keep the safety of their employees paramount, and do everything possible to prevent avoidable deaths on the job site.

A recent example of negligence leading to a serious work injury happened on Oct. 31 in Wareham. An employee for HiWay Safety Systems was trapped between a docking bay and the bumper of a tractor trailer truck, causing severe head trauma and his eventual death. The incident has since been labeled as a tragic, avoidable death by the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (MassCOSH).  The victim left behind a wife and two sons, who will have to deal with the emotional turmoil and financial distress of losing a husband, a father, and a breadwinner. The tragic event is now under investigation by OSHA, state, and local authorities.

It should be known that any worker asked to perform a duty that can be reasonably, in good faith, seen as overly hazardous maintains the right to refuse that work. In such a situation, employees should alert their employers of their concern and either ask for different work or ask that the hazards be adequately corrected. If the hazard is not corrected or the employer threatens retaliatory action for not performing the work, the employer should contact OSHA immediately. The worker would also have the right to legal representation. Continue reading

Contact Information