Collapses have now rocked high-profile Boston construction projects twice in 40 days. This is unacceptable.
If the death of Peter Mosini, a JDC Demolition employee killed when a section of the Government Center Garage gave way underneath him March 28, and the near death of three Suffolk subcontractors at the former L Street Power Station last week doesn’t make you either angry or scared the same thing could happen on your project, you have no business being in development.
Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden and the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration are investigating both incidents, and the developers – HYM Investment Group in the former case, Hilco Redevelopment Partners in the latter – have pledged close cooperation with those inquests. But it’s clear that someone, somewhere, failed. And it cost at least one worker his life.
History shows that most industrial accidents, particularly fatal ones, are nearly always human failures, not acts of God. Perhaps a dangerous situation was overlooked or shrugged off by a city inspector, a foreman, a project manager or someone even more senior. Maybe these collapses were caused by a poorly designed demolition plan, a rushed project schedule or insufficient investigations of the existing structure.
The day after the L Street collapse, Suffolk admirably halted all its projects throughout the city of Boston for a voluntary safety stand-down to review safety procedures. And the rest of the industry should take note.
We should be long past the age where grand monuments to capital are built on the blood and bones of labor.
Instead of waiting for the police and federal officials to issue their reports on the garage and power station collapses, every developer, construction manager and architect in this state with an active construction project should start double-checking their work. Second-guess your plans. Take a third or fourth look at how you’re trying to protect everyone’s safety on a jobsite.
Clearly, if one worker can be killed and others grievously maimed on sites staffed by companies that claim to be some of the best operators in the construction and development industries, workers on every project are at risk.
It’s worth remembering, too, that most construction site incidents don’t kill people. Poorly thought-out plans, insufficient training and lax management result in many serious injuries every year that end workers’ careers or leave them with lifelong pain.
Construction is a dangerous business – demolition projects doubly so – but if project managers, foremen, engineers, architects and developers do their jobs correctly, no worker should have to show up on a jobsite worrying if that day will be their last on Earth. We should be long past the age where grand monuments to capital are built on the blood and bones of labor.