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Contractor setting up scholarship fund after fatal employee crane accident

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Federal safety and health regulators have reached a settlement with a Massachusetts electrical contractor requiring the establishment of an endowment fund for scholarships, following the death of two employees in April 2014.

The two employees of East Boston-based Mass Bay Electrical Corp. were killed after a crane overturned and fell about 140 feet with both men harnessed to it, according to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration statement issued Monday.

The agency cited the company in September 2014 for violations including not training employees properly or evaluating their ability to operate the crane properly and not following the manufacturer's procedures for safely operating the crane — citations that the company initially contested.

Under the settlement terms, Mass Bay agreed to several repeat and serious violations and to pay an amended penalty of $136,000, lowered from $168,000, according to the agreement.

An aspect of the settlement is the requirement for Mass Bay to establish an endowment fund in the names of Joseph Boyd III and John Loughran to provide scholarships to workers interested in obtaining training and education in the fields of line construction project management and safety, according to the release. The company will provide at least $3,000 in annual contributions to the fund for the next 10 years and at least $5,000 in annual contributions for the succeeding decade. The fund will be administered in cooperation with Local 104 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the union of which the two deceased employees were members. According to a spokesman with the Department of Labor, this is the first time a fund of this type has been included in an OSHA settlement agreement.

The contractor also agreed to corrective actions designed to prevent future accidents, including extensive certification and training for management and employees on crane and aerial lift operations and safety standards, committing to regular internal and independent safety audits, developing an in-house safety committee, requiring field managers to be journeymen linemen on worksites where linemen work, and providing regular notification to OSHA of utility work projects, according to the release.

“This settlement is more than a piece of paper,” Michael Felsen, OSHA's regional solicitor of labor for New England in Boston, said in a statement. “It sets benchmarks, requires follow-through and is enforceable through the courts. It also looks to the future. In the names of Joseph Boyd III and John Loughran, it creates a fund to train current and future workers in line project management and safety techniques. Overall, it puts into place a host of mechanisms the goal of which is to ensure that other workers — and their families — never experience such needless loss of lives in the future.”

Spokespersons for the company and the union could not be immediately reached for comment.