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Workplace safety group sounds alarm after pair of construction deaths in Mass. on Saturday

A workplace safety advocacy group on Monday urged employers to do more to protect their workers after two men were killed in separate incidents in Massachusetts within a one-and-a-half hour span on Saturday.

On Saturday at about 8:20 a.m., a 25-year-old man who was working for a commercial roofing company fell off a barn in Shirley and died, according to police, who were investigating the incident.

Soon after, in Boston, 34-year-old Brandon J. McSweeney, of Sherborn, was killed when a 3,500-pound ballast fell onto him as he worked to set up the city’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration. Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins’ office said Monday it was continuing its investigation into McSweeney’s death.

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“Too many men and women go to work, never to come home because many still view fatal hazards as an unavoidable part of working,” said a statement Monday from Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health executive director Jodi Sugerman-Brozan.

The organization said it hopes the companies in both cases will cooperate with investigations.

An annual report from the organization showed 59 people died from injuries sustained at work in 2018. The highest concentration of such deaths was 21 in the construction industry.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, at a press conference Monday outlining the city’s preparations and public safety plan for First Night, said McSweeney’s death was a reminder of “how fragile life is” and the incident cast “a bit of a cloud” over the upcoming festivities.

“It was a real unfortunate tragedy what happened Saturday,” said Walsh who offered thoughts and prayers for McSweeney’s family. “It was a really sad situation.”

On a bitter, windy Monday afternoon, there was little activity in Copley Square, aside from a few workers putting the finishing touches on a large stage for the First Night Boston celebration.

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Globe correspondent Matt Berg contributed to this report. John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report.