Mayor Pushes Safer Working Conditions in Boston

Boston City Hall. Photo by Zoe Mitchell/BU News Service.
Written by Zoë Mitchell

By Zoe Mitchell
BU News Service

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wants to work with the City Council to ensure that organizations working in the city will have safe working environments for their employees and the public.

The Mayor wants to add a provision to a city law requiring any organizations or individual would have to affirm their work safety history to secure a work permit and the city can deny or revoke this permit at any point.

Currently, companies do not have to notify the city about any past safety violations they have or have settled with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and city officers cannot revoke or deny permits on these grounds .

A press representative from the Mayor’s Office could not comment on whether the legislation was in response to the incident that occurred earlier in October, when two men working for the Atlantic Drain Service Co. died, as it is still an active investigation.

Atlantic Drain Service Co. had a history of safety violations and had been fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, according to the Boston Globe.

The Council assigned the ordinance to the Committee of Government Operations. The Council must approve the ordinance for it to become law.

The Council also approved a hearing to discuss the need of more mental health professionals and social workers for the Boston Police, a resolution proposed by Councillor Ayanna Pressley.

Pressley said that the police frequently respond to crisis situations that can involve or become psychiatric emergencies, where specialized training or partnership with mental health professionals would improve police handling of these situations. 

Currently in Boston, there is only one clinician who accompanies police on ride-alongs, meaning most units are not accompanied by any clinical health technicians.

“They are working at a deficit of clinicians with the expertise,” Pressley said.

Pressley said that it was during discussions following the death of Terrence Coleman, a mentally-ill man who was shot by the Boston Police responding to a house call that escalated into an emergency situation, that she became aware of a lack of clinicians employed by the Boston Police.

“Law enforcement cannot do this work alone nor should they,” Pressley said.

Pressley said that there is still a lot of discussion needed to figure out exactly what the police department needs, which will happen in a hearing that will be scheduled “post-hate,” but suggests that eleven clinicians, one for each district, would be optimal.

Other Items Raised by the Council:

  • The Council passed of the ordinance that urges the city’s Transportation Secretary to set lower the default speed limit from 30 to 25 mph and even lower to 20 mph in safety zones in the city. The Council had previously passed a similar measure in April, asking the State to allow the City to lower the speed limits to 20 mph, but it was not enacted. This summer, Governor Charlie Baker passed a law allowing municipalities to set their own speed limits, meaning this ordinance could actually lead to a change in city speed limits.
  • The Council approved funding for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to receive additional funding to double their buying power at farmer’s markets, for Community Child Care programs, and for the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
  • There will be another hearing about any additional considerations that Boston Public Schools must take in consideration, such as WiFi-access, before taking further steps to expand Computer Science training in schools.
  • The Council passed an order to approve the granting of 12 new liquor licenses for South Bay to help stimulate economic growth and encourage local businesses in the area.

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