Company Involved in Haverhill Construction Death Also Saw Workplace Fatality in 2016

MassDOT identified the two workers who were injured as employees of J.R. Vinagro Corporation, a subcontractor on the project

The company working at a bridge project in Haverhill, Massachusetts, where one worker died and another was injured Wednesday has a history of serious workplace safety violations, including a 2016 incident in which an employee was killed, according to federal records reviewed by the NBC10 Boston Investigators. 

Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation identified the two workers who were injured Wednesday as employees of J.R. Vinagro Corporation, a subcontractor on the project.

Close to four years ago, 22-year-old Darwin Perez was partially crushed after he was caught on a conveyor belt at J.R. Vinagro's facility in Johnston, Rhode Island, according to Occupational Health and Safety Administration records and news reports.

The employee was partially pulled through the conveyor belt on Jan. 26, 2016, after his right arm was caught in a pair of rollers, federal records state. Investigators later determined the employee had free unobstructed access to the rollers because "there were no guards or engineering controls to prevent employees from entering this area of the conveyor system."

OSHA initially hit the company with two serious safety violations and $12,500 in fines, but later removed one of the penalties and lowered the fines to $2,750 through an informal settlement, according to the agency's records.

The incident was one of at least six that led to fines against J.R. Vinagro Corporation since 2010, federal records show. A phone call to the company on Wednesday afternoon was not immediately returned.

According to its website, J.R. Vinagro is one of the largest independently owned and operated demolition, recycling, and crushing companies in New England, and operates some 150 trucks in the region.

"The company has the resources and experience necessary to handle all aspects of demolition from facility decontamination to on-site rock crushing to off-site waste hauling for recycling, reclamation, and disposal," the site reads.

According to federal records, OSHA levied initial fines totaling a combined $86,397 against the company since 2010, and charged it with a combined 13 serious safety violations, although J.R. Vinagro was later found responsible for only eight serious violations and five lesser violations after reaching settlements with federal safety officials. It paid a combined $40,705 in fines as a result.

In Wednesday's incident, one person was killed and a second badly injured in an accident at a bridge construction project on Interstate 495 in Haverhill.

State police said they responded to the scene of the construction accident in the area of 115 Bank Rd. shortly before 10 a.m. Their preliminary investigation showed the two workers fell from the bucket of a lift truck as they were working on a bridge over the Merrimack River. The workers fell onto a barge below. What caused them to fall remains under investigation.

The Essex District Attorney's Office said one person was confirmed dead at the scene and another was taken by medical helicopter to Lahey Hospital in Burlington where he is undergoing surgery. His condition is not yet known.

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