On Tuesday, a residential building being constructed in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood collapsed under the weight of construction materials. Fortunately, nobody was killed, but two workers were seriously injured when seven floors of the residential building partially collapsed. Representatives from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) were part of the investigative team.
“The crane takes building material and it’s hoisted up to the floor at a place where the floor can support it,” said Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve Macdonald. “It was just a material load and that’s what OSHA will investigate. Where were loads placed? Were things strong enough?”
Deputy Fire Chief Robert Calobrisi said a “dead load” caused the collapsing floors to “pancake.” He said, “(It was) just going like a roller coaster at the top, going straight down.”
Two remain in the hospital — one with serious injuries — and a third, who checked in on their own with a hand injury, has been released. Thankfully, according to MacDonald, the injuries are not life-threatening. All 120 laborers, iron workers, and carpenters who were in the building as it collapsed have been accounted for.
Even those that were inside are unsure of what happened.
“We couldn’t see anything,” Scott Snow said. “We just heard a loud rumble and we got out.”
“The flooring came down on him, that’s all I know,” added James Parson.
The investigation will take time since the process itself requires a few days and, before authorities get started, they need to wait for the building’s structure to be strengthened before debris is cleared.
MacDonald said the investigation will move forward cautiously, despite the fact that answers are wanted now, because, “Right now there’s no life hazard. You don’t want to create one.”
“Everyone’s shaken up,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a former union laborer, said. “You know, it could be anybody. Construction is a dangerous, dangerous job.”
Stats from OSHA say that the number of workplace injuries and illnesses has dropped from a staggering rate of nearly 11 incidents per 100 workers in the 1970’s, to roughly 3.5 per 100 today. Newer, safer tools and safety regulations have made work environments much safer than they were in the past.
However, that doesn’t mean that accidents will not happen and, unfortunately, that seems to have been the case on Tuesday.