Boston Mayor Moves to Keep Trench Workers Safe

November 15, 2016

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh (above) filed an ordinance change on Monday to improve construction worker safety following the deaths of two trench workers killed last month while working on private property.

The two construction workers drowned on October 21 when a water line burst under a Boston street, flooding the 15 foot deep trench with a torrent of water, causing the walls to collapse. The Boston fire department said no trench box protection was found at the site. The contractor, Atlantic Drain Service, had a history of safety violations and fines from OSHA.

If adopted, the proposed ordinance will revise the Boston Municipal Code to give city officials the right to deny, revoke or suspend a work permit based on a company’s work safety history. Companies applying for work permits would be required to inform officials of any violations with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Walsh said the current law prevents the city from withholding permits for a private job simply due to safety concerns.

“We know how dangerous work sites can be, and in Boston we are committed to doing all we can to protect those working in our city,” Walsh said in a statement. “I urge the City Council to move quickly on this proposal so Boston can put these changes into effect immediately.”

If approved by the Boston City Council, the ordinance will take immediate effect.