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Report: Massachusetts Demolition Workers Injured

Demolition workers helping to tear down the former Wollaston Theatre in Quincy, Mass. were seriously injured after they became trapped when a wall fell on top of them. wall1

According to Masslive.com, the incident happened just south of Boston at a place that was once known by locals as, “The Wolly.” It opened in 1926, but was being torn down after it had fallen into disrepair and the site purchased in 2012.

The structural collapse incident at the 90-year-old landmark occurred when a 15-foot wall made of brick and steel collapsed during the demolition process. One worker was trapped on the ground and another hurt his arm after he jumped from a cherry picker. The man on the ground was reportedly stuck under 4 feet of brick and steel. Firefighters believe a steel beam probably saved his life. His torso and below were completely buried. 

Firefighters rushed to his aid and dug him out with “good old-fashioned man power,” according to authorities.

The owner of the construction company responsible for the work told reporters the workers were expected to recover from their work-related injuries. He further insisted the company was following all proper construction procedures and standards.

Although the company is entitled to a fair review of the facts, our Boston workers’ compensation lawyers are skeptical of that last statement. Demolition work may be inherently dangerous, but that certainly doesn’t mean that these kinds of accident are unavoidable. In fact, most demolition injuries are preventable. Unfortunately, they happen far too often.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has a long list of demolition injuries on public file. One of the more recent was strikingly similar to the one at the Wolly. In that case, the agency reported a lead worker and his helper were tearing down a car wash facility. They had taken down the roof and trusses that covered the first four concrete walls between wash bays. They then took down two of the walls but as they were working on the third, the 10-foot high, 22-foot long wall collapsed.

As a result, the lead worker was pinned to the concrete floor, suffering fatal injuries, including a separated aorta, ruptured diaphragm, multiple fractured ribs, fractured pubic bone and fractured lumbar vertebrae.

wall fell, pinning him to the concrete floor. He sustained a separated aorta, a ruptured diaphragm, multiple fractured ribs, a fractured pubic bone, and fractured lumbar vertebrae. According to the coroner, the worker died of severe blood loss.

The local sheriff’s office reported there was no mechanical equipment or safety equipment on site when they arrived to start their investigation.

Demolition, which involves razing, destroying, wrecking or dismantling any building or structure, is often referred to in safety circles as “Construction in Reverse.” One cannot simply go in and start tearing down walls without a very specific plan that is just as technical – if not more – than the building’s construction. Yet it involves additional hazards because:

  • The structure’s design may have been changed since it was first built;
  • Approved or unapproved modifications may have altered the original design;
  • There are materials hidden in the structure, such as lead, asbestos or other chemicals or heavy equipment;
  • There is an unknown strength/ weakness of the materials therein;
  • Demolition methods can create additional risks.

Every demolition worker and company has to be totally aware of the risks and take every necessary safety precaution to protect employees.

Employees who are injured on-the-job are usually eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Workers Trapped After Wall Collapses At Wollaston Theatre, July 12, 2016, CBS

More Blog Entries:

Worker Injured in Crane Accident at Medford-Everett Border, July 22, 2016, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog