BOSTON–The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) expressed deep sadness over the tragic death of 51-year-old Peter Monsini, who was operating a piece of heavy machinery around 5:30 p.m. at the Government Center parking garage demolition site in Boston when the floor underneath his machine buckled and he fell nine stories.
Monsini died of his injuries on site. Details continue to emerge regarding the cause of the fatal incident.
Injury and workplace fatality data show that the construction industry continues to be the most dangerous for Massachusetts workers. Over the last five years, 67 construction workers have died on the job. In 2019, 20 construction workers in the state died due to workplace hazards. In 2020 as construction sites came to a screeching halt due to the pandemic, that number was nine. In 2021 the number of workers killed increased to 15.
Monsini is the first fallen construction worker of 2022. MassCOSH sadly predicts that more construction workers will needlessly lose their lives on the job as construction projects return to pre-pandemic levels.
Occupational safety experts warn that demolition is a particularly dangerous form of construction work. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) demolition “Preparatory Operations” standard require that an engineering survey be completed prior to starting demolition, and that there is ongoing evaluation of the site to prevent collapses. The standard state that “continuing inspections by a competent person shall be made as the work progresses to detect hazards resulting from weakened or deteriorated floors, or walls, or loosened material. No employee shall be permitted to work where such hazards exist until they are corrected by shoring, bracing, or other effective means.”
The standard is so important to creating a safe worksite that three-quarters of OSHA violations related to demolition work cited the standard. At worksites like the garage, the strength of the floors should have been evaluated and known so employers know how much machinery and debris can safely be on a floor. Details regarding the floor’s inspection are not yet known.
According to OSHA records, Monsini’s employer, JDC Demolition, and its parent company, J. Derenzo, have a history of unsafe working conditions, MassCOSH said in a statement. JDC Demolition has been cited for several serious OSHA violations, including two citing the Preparatory Operations standard, one in 2014 and in 2016 .
A worker working for J. Derenzo died on the job in April 2018. The worker was using the bucket of an excavator to disassemble a trench box when he was fatally struck in the chest by part of the box. In the last 10 years, J. Derenzo has been cited by OSHA almost 10 times and fined approximately $150,000.
MassCOSH has been working to pass H1966 / S1190 An Act relative to workplace safety and disclosure of violations, legislation that requires that companies seeking Massachusetts state contracts or trenching permits disclose their OSHA violations. The bill was inspired by a City of Boston ordinance put in place after two men died when they drowned in a trench working for Atlantic Drain. The bill would protect Massachusetts taxpayers, law-abiding businesses, and workers by allowing the state to pass on bids from companies that have a history of putting their workers in danger.
“Our thoughts go out to Peter Monsini, his family, and his brothers and sisters in the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 4,” said MassCOSH Executive Director Jodi Sugerman-Brozan. “Our changing skylines must not be built with the blood of workers. Passing An Act relative to workplace safety and disclosure of violations and better funding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are common sense actions we can do right now to prevent workplace tragedies. MassCOSH stands ready to support Peter’s family and all others who have suffered from unsafe work in any way we can.”