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Honoring Joe and John, Fallen Massachusetts Linemen

the crane that John and Joe were working from that collapsed The crane that collapsed, killing Joe and John.

No one should ever have to worry whether a loved one will come home from work alive. The reality, however, is that too many workers in this country are exposed to deadly but avoidable hazards on the job every day. Joe Boyd III and John Loughran were in the prime of their lives with good careers as members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 104. On April 12, 2014, they left for work and never returned home. This is what happened: Their employer, Mass Bay Electrical Corp., sent them to work on transmission lines approximately 140 feet off the ground. They were strapped into a personnel basket that was attached to a crane, but had not been adequately trained to work from that crane or otherwise properly prepared. When the crane’s arm moved below the permissible limit, the crane became unstable and tipped over, sending Joe and John plummeting to their deaths.
John Loughran John Loughran

This kind of tragedy shakes a community, and it demands a response. The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated, finding a number of significant safety violations. In an effort to prevent another such tragedy and to enforce the law, the department ultimately sued Mass Bay for those violations. This kind of action on our part is not unique, but what’s unusual about this story is the unprecedented way in which the lawsuit was resolved. Joe and John’s parents told us they wanted their sons to be honored and remembered, both by Mass Bay and the broader community. We in the department’s Office of the Solicitor and our colleagues in OSHA took that request seriously. So as part of the settlement of the lawsuit – in addition to a host of measures designed to prevent other incidents – the Labor Department required Mass Bay to establish the Boyd/Loughran Fund. To be administered cooperatively by Mass Bay and IBEW Local 104, this scholarship fund will help many workers like Joe and John get training in line project management and safety. Mass Bay will contribute to the fund for at least the next 20 years. The Labor Department had never before negotiated such a settlement provision in an OSHA matter, and as trial attorneys on the case we were gratified to have been part of the process. The Boyd/Loughran Fund reveals how lawsuits and settlement agreements – in addition to serving the mission of worker safety – can also serve the needs of those most impacted by the tragedies the law seeks to prevent. On a personal level, this case hit home with us because we’re about the same age as Joe and John. Their deaths were a powerful reminder of what some workers risk to support themselves and their families. When we met with Joe and John’s families at the conclusion of this case, and gave hugs and handshakes to them all, we felt they knew that at least some good has followed this tragic loss of life. And while our efforts can’t bring them back, their families have inspired us to work even harder to ensure that all workers make it home at the end of every shift. Nathan Goldstein and Mark Pedulla are trial attorneys in the Office of the Solicitor who negotiated this settlement.


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Darell. You do not need a Crane Card to operate a line truck or bucket truck for linemen/groundman. A lot of linemen work these machines to death. I got my NCCCO card at 21 and work these machines on both fixed and swing cabs. Its just that many still don't understand how the angle and radius affects what you can pick up. I've seen trucks flip over because they had 2nd and 3rd stage fully extended and less than 15 Degrees, whiele trying to pick up a 65/H5 Pole. But you can't argue with a Lineman. I'm just a Certified Crane Operator

In reply to by Diego (not verified)

First of all, My thoughts and sympathies go out to the families of the fallen men who passed on this post. Second - my comment is not directed at those operating the equipment in this particular situation, just a general comment from my background in cranes. Diego, You are spot on man! Folks often overlook that the "thing" they are picking up is further out than what the machine picking it up is capable of with the given boom angle so what do they do, keep taking up on the winch line, deciding they are now engineers to boot. I am saddened that industry allows certain trades to be exempt from having to be trained on gear that can (as in this case), end lives. It's relatively simple physics involved but as we often see, through the course of the day focus is placed where priorities are and the safety procedures surrounding the ancillary equipment is often forgotten until it is too late.
I was a Jry Lineman for 39 years before a injury from our trade , that was due to just hard work during the job - left me no choice but to apply for diss-ability . This type of accident is what really helped me make my mind up to apply . You see , these young men , who were surely good people were not worried about anything but doing a good job . On a personal note I have worked out of this local union many times and was always happy to see how much the Local Union had the unique way of looking over the Hands and contractor in a circle of safety . I was real sad to hear of this accident . It seems to me that years ago before these basket cranes , we were more inclined to make sure we were comfortable in our working ability , and not to worried about what could go wrong . We knew our trade was dangerous , accepted the danger and went about the job at hand . What bothers me the most is the fact that I know for sure to run a crane , any crane including a line truck , a worker has to have a crane card . This card is got by attending a class for many hours about how to operate such machines . Just looking at this picture makes me upset . Before all these new safety rules you were trained for such cranes on the job . There is no way in hell the that picture tells me the man operating and the man in charge knew why you don't work over the back of this machine . Especially when the boom is extended and have men in the basket . There is enough blame to go around , so I will just say that in my opinion , you should not be able to be in charge of a crew , or overlook multiple crews before you have at least 5 + years on your ticket . I have been instructed by men on how to do a certain job to many times with a young man Foreman that was no way near experienced enough on the job to instruct how to do a job . My heart is heavy - this really is just another accident that never should have happened . There are many every year . Darrell Kuhn D609402
beautiful article about a terrible tragedy. thank you for doing this work.
To bad osha doesn't go after all employers that have killed it's workers. Many a coal miner has died and a company has been allowed to either refuse to pay full amount of fine or tied it up in courts forcing the gov to spend more of our tax dollars to argue in court for the fine to be paid

In reply to by ben dorka (not verified)

To Ben; OSHA does not cover miners. They are protected by the Mine Safety Health Administration (MSHA). As for companies that go to trial court to contest violations issued as a result of inspections performed, that's the employers right under the OSH Act.

In reply to by ben dorka (not verified)

Its not up to OSHA, they provide guidelines, it's up to industry itself. OSHA is NOT nor ever was created to enforce, industry is and will always be. Should truck or auto mfgs' now go after companies who install aftermarket stuff on those vehicles (like a commercial truck that gets a crane installed)? No, it's up to industry to do a better job of implementing processes and policing not OSHA.
It seems like common sense. I am not a power company worker and have never operated a crane but simple math or common sense dictate that the basket should be forward to utilize all the weight of the truck and the tires as a counterweight.