BOSTON–The death of an unidentified worker in Newton on Thursday is a tragic reminder of the critical safety measures that should always be in place for workers who construct walls and trenches, said the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) in a statement.
According to media reports, the 55-year-old man was working at a construction site at Winchester Street in Newton in the foundation of a residence when a wall collapsed, crushing him. He was announced dead on the scene.
The worker is the 15th confirmed workplace injury death in 2021 and the 6th worker to die from construction-related work. A similar wall collapse death occurred in 2017 in Medford, when a partially excavated foundation wall fell onto Michael Santini while he worked. In the past, tragic events like this have been caused when employers fail to brace walls against collapse – a critical safeguard – and fail to adhere to basic, legally required safeguards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that establishing and maintaining effective construction safeguards to prevent falling debris and collapsing materials and providing adequate employee training is crucial to protecting employees from preventable serious or fatal injuries.
According to MassCOSH’s ‘Dying for Work in Massachusetts,’ an annual report detailing occupational fatalities and injuries having occurred in the Bay State, in 2020, the construction industry was the second most dangerous occupation in the state, with six construction deaths occurring that year, accounting for 18% of workers fatally injured on the job. This was a record-low for the sector due to many construction sites being shut down due to the pandemic. In 2019, a year that was unaffected by shutdowns, the construction industry was the most dangerous industry for workers, with 19 deaths, accounting for 29% of workers fatally injured on the job.
“Our thoughts go out to the friends, family, and coworkers of our lost brother,” said MassCOSH Executive Director Jodi Sugerman-Brozan. “When employers don’t follow established safety standards, it can have profound consequences. From devastated families very suddenly losing a loved one and survivor’s guilt of coworkers, to first responders experiencing profound trauma recovering a lost worker, so many of our community members can be affected by unsafe work. We owe it to those we have lost on the job and those we can still protect to end needlessly dangerous jobs once and for all.”