A contractor taking down the Government Center garage in Boston faces a potential $1.2-million OSHA fine for safety lapses that federal investigators say led to the death March 26 of an excavator operator who plunged 80 ft to his death in a partial collapse during demolition.
Brockton-based JDC Demolition, which has worked on some of the biggest projects in the Boston area, faces 11 safety violations, including eight in the “egregious-willful” category, according to a press release by the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Operator Peter Monsini was on his first day on the project, helping take apart the already partially demolished eighth floor of the hulking, 1960s-era concrete structure. Monsini ran a nearly 6-ton excavator when a section of the garage gave way.
OSHA’s proposed $1.2-million fine is one of the biggest against a Massachusetts contractor, though it is slightly smaller than the $1.35 million federal safety regulators proposed last year against Atlantic Coast Utilities after the death of two workers at a job in downtown Boston.
John Moriarty and Associates Inc., the general contractor on the Government Center garage redevelopment work, faces four serious violations, with $58,008 in proposed penalties, according to OSHA.
Monsini was not trained to follow the engineer’s demolition plan, which barred heavy equipment from being placed in a partly demolished floor bay. He also never received a safety briefing before he was put to work on the structure's eighth floor, an OSHA inspection found.
Plan Addressed Overloading
JDC violated the demolition plan by overloading the partially demolished seventh, eighth and ninth floors with heavy equipment, OSHA's investigation found. Under the plan, heavy equipment could not be positioned on partially demolished floor bays.
“JDC Demolition Company Inc. knew the heavy equipment on the partially demolished floors were over the weight limits and still allowed a worker, unaware of the hazards, to do demolition work,” stated OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton.
In a statement, a spokesperson for JDC said the company has “fully cooperated with OSHA” and has had an “excellent safety record” over the years. The company’s work includes major projects like the demolition of part of a landmark downtown Boston department store and the old Quincy shipyard.
“JDC Demolition takes the safety and security of their employees extremely seriously and remains deeply saddened by the tragic loss of a team member,” the spokesperson stated in an email.
JDC is now reviewing the citations and will “contest them as appropriate,” the spokesperson said, and Moriarty did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Monsini’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Moriarty and developer HYM Investment Group, which has been removing pieces of the Government Center garage and building new towers on the cleared sites, the Boston Globe reports. A spokesperson for HYM declined to comment.
The partial collapse of the Government Center garage brought demolition work to a halt for four months.
The tragedy also triggered a temporary shutdown of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority tunnels that run underneath the garage, snarling service on the Orange and Green lines. A later inspection found a weakened support column, triggering another shutdown. The MBTA has stated it plans to seek financial compensation from the developers and investors behind the multibillion-dollar redevelopment of the Government Center garage site.