Crane Falls Down in Boston as Suffolk University Roof was Being Inspected - Worker Killed

On the morning of February 7, 2009, one worker was killed and another seriously injured after a crane (also known as a hydraulic “aerial lift”) used to inspect the roof of a seven-story Suffolk University dormitory fell over. The crane’s 110-foot metal arm toppled over, crushing the building in Downtown Crossing.

District Fire Chief Ron Harrington said two workers were in the basket as it plunged into a paved lot. Both were severely injured, and one was found at the scene. A spokeswoman for Massachusetts General Hospital identified the workers as James Williamson and Greg Johnson by Valerie Wencis.

The crane fell shortly before 10:30 a.m., hitting the Brattle Book Shop's outdoor book display, as well as the back of a building on Temple Place.

Firefighters, police, and officials from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”) stayed at the scene throughout the day, inspecting the large lift base, which sat sideways on two wheels, and trying to piece together events. Steve MacDonald, Boston Fire Department spokesman, said the impact bent the crane. Officials planned to cut it and remove it in pieces last night, he said.

Greg Gatlin, a spokesman for Suffolk University, said the school had contracted with Tremco Inc. of Lakeville to inspect a number of its buildings' rooftops, including the dormitory at 10 West St. Tremco then subcontracted the job to Reliable Roofing and Sheet Metal of Framingham, which performed the work. Reliable Roofing leased the crane equipment from a company called Height 4 Hire.

OSHA fined Reliable Roofing $4,500 in March for failing to provide "guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems" for employees working at a job site in Newburyport, according to the administration's website. The company paid $1,800 to settle the fine in April.

If you or a loved one has experienced a catastrophic injury due to a crane or aerial lift collapse, or construction site accident, contact the Boston law office of Swartz & Swartz, P.C.. We currently represent the family of a man who died in October 2008 at the AstraZeneca construction site in Waltham, Massachusetts, after his hydraulic aerial lift toppled over. The incident was widely covered in the media, and involves complex legal issues relating to product liability, construction site accidents, and wrongful death. OSHA has investigated the incident, and the litigation is ongoing.

Our record in construction site cases is second to none. We have been handling these cases for more than three decades and have achieved record results in Massachusetts, New England and throughout the United States. We will answer your questions and protect your legal rights. Speak with a personal injury lawyer today by calling (617) 742-1900, or toll free outside of Boston, 1-800-545-3732.

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