A Boston city councilor is calling for a hearing to examine the city’s construction site safety guidelines, citing the deaths last week of two construction workers, as well as other fatal workplace accidents in recent years.
Councilor Ed Flynn said he wants the council to discuss protocols for construction sites and “ways that the city can ensure the protection and well-being of our workers and residents,” according to a hearing order Flynn filed Monday.
“It is imperative that our residents and construction workers are safe in and around the areas of these construction sites, especially considering our densely populated neighborhoods,” Flynn said.
Flynn wants representatives from the city’s Inspectional Services Department, Boston police, and the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health to testify at a hearing. Flynn’s order is slated to be discussed Wednesday at the council’s next meeting.
Flynn’s request comes as details emerge about Atlantic Coast Utilities — the company behind the construction project where the tragedy took place. The company’s owner had failed to disclose to the city that his company had numerous past workplace safety violations, which could have disqualified it from construction work, records show.
Family and friends say Jordan Romero, 27, and Juan Carlos Figueroa Gutierrez, 33, were killed after they were allegedly struck by a construction truck and fell into a mattress-sized hole dug into the street. Authorities have released few details on the incident.
Laurence M. Moloney, owner of Atlantic Coast Utilities, did not respond Monday to requests for comment.
In a Monday statement, a spokesman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh said, “It’s heartbreaking that two hardworking people lost their lives so suddenly and tragically, and we will work tirelessly to understand how this happened in order to create safer conditions in the future.”
In his proposal Monday, Flynn, whose district includes the High Street location of last week’s tragedy, also referenced other recent city construction accidents, including one where a worker was fatally struck by equipment while setting up “First Night” celebrations in late 2019; a woman who seriously injured in July 2019 by falling debris at a North End construction site; and a 2016 crane accident that killed one worker in the Longwood Medical Area.
Flynn cited a fire at a construction site in the city’s Theatre District in April 2019, as well as one at the Hub on Causeway a month earlier.
“These tragedies illustrate the importance of construction site safety, especially when cranes and machinery are set up in areas with dense pedestrian traffic, or above streets with heavy traffic,” said Flynn.
Council President Kim Janey — who is slated to become acting mayor if Walsh, as expected, leaves for a post as head of the US Department of Labor — issued a statement Friday night calling the recent deaths a tragic loss for the city.
“We need to ensure that all companies doing business in Boston, including construction companies, are held to the highest safety standards and that we have the oversight systems in place to protect workers and the general public,” Janey said in a released statement.
Family and friends of the men killed Wednesday confirmed that they had worked for Atlantic Coast Utilities, the Boston-based company that was repairing a sewer line for an office building on High Street Wednesday.
Romero, of Lynn, the oldest of four siblings, was described by his sister as “a fun guy, so full of life,” and a hard worker. He had two children, ages nine and five.
Juan Carlos Figueroa Gutierrez was helping raise his girlfriend’s two children, and worked in construction with the goal to help build a home for his family in Guatemala, said Martha Perez, a close friend of Gutierrez’s family.
“He was a very happy person, he loved his work,” Perez said through a translator Friday.
She added that friends and family remain frustrated with the lack of details surrounding his death.
“I wish that the police will give us more information but so far, they are telling us that everything is under investigation so they cannot tell us anything,” Perez said. “Even his personal belongings like his wallet and everything ... they are keeping everything.”
Perez said she didn’t know how long Gutierrez had worked for Atlantic Coast Utilities. The company had offered to pay for Gutierrez’s funeral expenses, Perez said, but his family declined the offer because of potential civil litigation.
With the help of a GoFundMe campaign that raised $7,500 towards a $10,000 goal, the Gutierrez family has scheduled a visitation in his memory at the Ruggerio Family Memorial Home in East Boston funeral this Friday between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
“Thank you all for your words of kindness and your prayers,’ Diana Perez, who organized the fundraiser, wrote. She is the daughter of Maria Perez. “The family wants to express their deepest gratitude to all of the donors who have made it possible for them to make this funeral arrangements a reality.”