Worker Dies at Swampscott Quarry

July 18, 2023

July 18, 2023

Jame Jones, Communications Coordinator
(857) 301-7730

Worker Dies at Swampscott Quarry

The death of an unnamed worker in Swampscott is a tragic reminder that employers must take every precaution to protect workers from numerous hazards on the job, especially when working with heavy machinery around an extraction site, said the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (MassCOSH) in a statement released today.

According to media reports, the police were called yesterday, Monday afternoon, at 1pm to investigate the tragic death of a worker in an industrial accident involving a rock crusher suspended over the Aggregate Industries quarry on Danvers Road. The exact cause of death is still under investigation and additional details were unavailable at the time this statement was issued.

According to the MassCOSH report, Dying for Work in Massachusetts, five workers died from contact with objects or equipment last year, making it the fourth most common cause of death in 2022.

In operating equipment and machinery at a quarry worksite, the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) requires that “moving machine parts…be guarded to protect persons from contacting gears, sprockets, chains, drive, head, tail, and takeup pulleys, flywheels, couplings, shafts, fan blades, and similar moving parts that can cause injury.” If the equipment is not sufficiently guarded, it must be at least 7 feet away from any “walking or working surfaces.” In safely performing mechanical work on the equipment itself, MSHA also requires adherence to Lockout-Tagout-Tryout procedures (LOTO), which ensure that machinery is properly deenergized beforehand.

Lastly, MSHA has the following requirements in place specifically for the use of crushers:

• “Dust shall be controlled at muck piles, material transfer points, crushers, and on haulage roads where hazards to persons would be created as a result of impaired visibility.”
• “Before starting crushers…equipment operators shall sound a warning that is audible above the surrounding noise level or use other effective means to warn all persons who could be exposed to a hazard from the equipment.”

At the time of this release, OSHA’s online records report that Aggregate Industries has been cited for fifteen violations over the past ten years, while Holcim US Inc, its parent company, has been cited twenty-five times over that same span. There are multiple machinery/equipment violations, including failure to follow lockout/tagout procedures in energy control. They were also cited for failure to protect against falling objects and respiratory hazards.

“While we do not yet know the name of this worker, our thoughts are with their family, friends and co-workers at this incredibly difficult time,” said MassCOSH Chief of Strategy & Engagement Al Vega. “It is especially discouraging to look back on the history of extensive warnings this company and its affiliates have received over the last decade, only to have those warnings culminate in this incredibly tragic and preventable event.”