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Boston Ordinance Would Allow City to Reject Contractors with History of Violations


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Last month in Boston, two men died at an Atlantic Drain Services job site when a ruptured water main flooded the 12-foot-deep trench they were working in. Prior to the accident, Atlantic Drain Services received fines totaling more than $140,000 for a decade’s worth of safety violations. Now, Mayor Martin J. Walsh has proposed a new ordinance that would allow city officials to deny permits to contractors with a history of unsafe activity:

Walsh’s measure, filed with the City Council yesterday, would require applicants for permits to file an affidavit listing all current and resolved violations from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration before receiving a permit.

And it would give permitting authorities, including the Inspectional Services Department and the Public Works Department, the power to reject applications from companies “with a history of engaging in unsafe, hazardous or dangerous practices based on work safety histories or concerns.”

The proposal would also give city officials the power to revoke permits for the same safety concerns. Currently, city law does not subject permits to any kind of conditional safety review.

Mayor Walsh has made clear he would like to see the ordinance approved by the City Council as quickly as possible:

“We know how dangerous work sites can be, and in Boston we are committed to doing all we can to protect those working in our city,” said Mayor Walsh. “I urge the City Council to move quickly on this proposal so Boston can put these changes into effect immediately.”

Boston’s Municipal Code will be updated to allow a city officials to deny, revoke or suspend a permit if the applicant has a history of “unsafe, hazardous or dangerous practices.”

If approved, the new law will go into effect immediately.


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