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Two Massachusetts Linemen Die in Tragic Crane Truck Accident

April 25, 2014

Two 34-year-old linemen in Bourne, Mass., died April 12 after a crane truck tipped over while the men were working at the end of its boom, reported the Boston Globe.

The linemen — John Loughran and Joseph L. Boyd III — were employees of Mass Bay Electrical Corp, according to several news sources. Mass Bay Electrical had been contracted to perform routine maintenance work for NSTAR close to Cape Cod Canal.

"Due to the active investigation we can confirm only that we hired Mass Bay Electrical to do maintenance work on our transmission system," Rhiannon D’Angelo, senior media specialist for NStar, wrote in an e-mail to UF.

NSTAR, a Northeast Utilities company, is a Massachusetts-based, investor-owned electric and gas utility transmitting and delivering electricity and natural gas to customers in Eastern and Central Massachusetts. Northeast Utilities is one of the largest commercial fleets in the country, ranking No. 187 on the top 300 commercial fleets in 2013.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), which had cited Mass Bay Electrical in 2005 for three serious violations, including two regarding truck aerial lifts, is still investigating the accident to determine if any violations of workplace safety standards contributed to the death, reported the Cape Cod Times.

By law, OSHA must conclude its investigation within six months.

No suspicion of criminal activity of any kind was involved, State Police told the Globe.

Bourne Fire Department officials told the Globe that the crane supporting the men had been extended to its full length, about 140 feet, before the truck tipped. The men reportedly landed inside a hole where gravel is excavated, 30 feet lower than ground level — a potential 170-foot fall overall.

The crane boom truck the two men had been using was a 40,000-lb. Elliott 40142, according to the Cape Cod Times. Technical specifications posted on the manufacturer website stated the truck’s system senses cylinder pressures, boom length and boom angle, and includes audio and visual warnings and shut-off functions.

View a photo gallery from Cape Cod Times here.

Loughran and Boyd were both members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 104. Loughran came from a family of linemen, and the union’s Walpole headquarters is even dedicated to his grandfather, according to Wickedlocal.com.

Boyd’s obituary stated that he had been a journeyman electrician with the local #223 for the past five years and had recently enrolled in lineman apprenticeship training program with the Local #104 in Walpole. He also held a crane operator’s license and hoisting license.

Fatalities involving aerial work platforms are not uncommon in the utility industry. In 2013, a total of 53 fatalities involving aerial work platforms were reported to the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), an organization that promotes the safe and effective use of powered access worldwide.

Just last month, an Ohio Edison worker was reportedly ejected from the bucket when the arm on the boom separated from the truck and flew out away from the machine. 

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