OSHA Cites Mass. Contractor in Deadly Crane Collapse

July 13, 2005

A federal agency that oversees workplace safety blamed a contractor for a shipyard crane accident that in January killed two workers, including one from New Hampshire.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Testa Corp. for 15 alleged violations of safety and health standards at the former Fore River Shipyard in Braintree, Mass., where two workers died when a crane collapsed Jan. 26.

“Had proper procedures been followed and required safeguards adhered to, this fatal accident could have been avoided,” Brenda Gordon, OSHA’s area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts, said in a prepared statement.

Elvis Munoz, 44, of Lawrence, and David P. May, 36, of Manchester, N.H., were removing asbestos inside a building at the shipyard when a piece of the giant metal frame that once held up to 22 shipbuilding cranes collapsed onto the structure. They were killed and several other workers were injured.

OSHA said it found that Lynnfield-based Testa, which was the general contractor for demolition of the 190-foot craneway, did not perform an engineering survey to determine if the craneway was stable before allowing workers inside the adjacent building.

The federal agency said in its report that “several of the steel craneway’s members had been cut through by torches and cross-bracing supports had been removed, leaving the structure overstressed.”

OSHA proposed penalties totaling $60,400.

Steven Testa, president of Testa Corp., said in a statement that the company “will be reviewing the violations carefully to determine the company’s response.” He said Testa Corp. has a fulltime safety officer.

“Nothing we can say can appropriately express our regret for the pain and suffering of the workers and their families involved in the accident,” Testa said. “The company, and I personally, deeply regret that the accident occurred. Our thoughts and prayers remain with all those involved who were impacted.”

The workers in the building at the time of the collapse were from A-Best Abatement Inc., a Salem, N.H., asbestos removal company.

The Fore River Shipyard built Navy ships before it closed in 1987.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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