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OHSA investigation may open door to wrongful death lawsuit

Firefighters place themselves in life and death situations every day. They knowingly assume the risks when they answer the call to help others in need. However, if the conditions they were faced with were caused by negligence -- and they perished as a result -- their survivors may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. There may be such a case here in Massachusetts.

Last March, firefighters responded to a nine-alarm structure fire in Boston's Back Bay. That fire killed two members of one of the companies. Several months later, OSHA determined that the fire was the result of negligence and willful violations on the part of a welding company. OSHA found that workers were using welding equipment while weather conditions made it unsafe to do so, which enabled sparks to land on fire-prone materials. 

OSHA says that the Massachusetts company failed to follow required safety procedures and did not train employees in the safe operation of the equipment to prevent fire danger. It also failed to instruct workers to perform the welding project in a safe location nor was a worker appointed to watch for fire. There were several other violations which related to worker safety but did not directly lead to this fatal fire.

The office of the District Attorney is still working to complete its part of this investigation. The company, D & J Ironworks, was assessed $58,000 in fines, which it may dispute. The surviving families of the two firefighters may seek help in assessing the feasibility of filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the business that may have ultimately been to blame for the deadly blaze. Such litigation is usually filed in order to seek restitution for the monetary damages that follow in the wake of tragic and seemingly preventable losses.

Source: allston.wickedlocal.com, "Company cited in blaze that killed 2 Parkway firefighters", , Sept. 19, 2014

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