One worker killed, two injured by falling scaffolding at MIT

Scaffolding is a common sight on most construction projects. It enables workers to construct exterior walls and install windows and balconies. Scaffolding can also pose a significant hazard for workers if any part of it should become detached or should collapse. A recent construction accident on the campus of MIT in Cambridge shows how devastating such an accident can be.

At about 3:00 p.m., scaffolding and construction materials fell from the third floor and hit three workers who were on the ground level. All three were taken to area hospitals. One worker died after he arrived at the hospital. The other two workers were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

The cause of the accident is under investigation by Cambridge police and the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration. An assistant Cambridge fire chief attributed the accident to bad luck: “It was just the wrong time to be in that location.” Investigators are unlikely to accept “bad luck” as a valid explanation. Construction scaffolding must be build according to explicit requirements established by OSHA. These regulations cover topics such as maximum height, minimum carrying capacity, platform bearing capacity and similar topics. A failure to meet these requirements can lead to sizable fines, especially if the departure leads to injury or death.

Based on information released thus far, all three construction workers appear to be employees of the company running the project. As such, the injured workers and the survivors of the deceased worker will be eligible for benefits under Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation system. The injured workers will be compensated for lost income, medical expenses and any temporary or permanent disability. The family of the deceased worker are eligible for workers’ compensation survivors’ benefits.

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