The city of Boston will soon require all companies and individuals planning to perform construction work in the city to provide their safety records prior to obtaining a permit. The new ordinance arose out of a tragedy that struck in October during a Boston construction project which resulted in the death of two workers. While working in a trench, a water main broke drowning the two workers in the flooded trench.
The investigation following the tragic accident revealed that the company who employed the men had a long and troubled history of safety violations and unpaid OSHA fines. The violations included tens of thousands of unpaid fines for violations dating back to at least 2012. The 2012 violation included a nearly $74,000 fine for repeated safety infractions and one “willful” violation which is the most severe penalty imposed by OSHA. Despite this troubling history the Boston officials had no knowledge of the violations prior to the construction project that led to the death of the workers.
In an effort to protect construction workers engaged on Boston city projects and to hold those companies who commit safety violations accountable Boston Mayor Marty Walsh filed an ordinance proposal a month after the tragedy which would require any company or individual receiving work permits in Boston to provide their safety record, including current or unresolved safety issues and any OSHA violations. The Boston City Council approved the proposed ordinance the week of December 16th and the rule will become effective as soon as the Mayor signs the measure.
The hope is that this ordinance will bring a new era of construction to Boston, in which needless injuries and deaths to construction workers can be avoided by ensuring that companies and individuals who work in the city have a history of complying with safety rules and regulations. The ordinance will also have a significant impact on those companies who previously performed work in Boston and do not have a strong history of safety compliance.