After fatal mishap, work on I-495 bridge 

RYAN HUTTON/Staff photoPolice inspect a lift on a barge in the Merrimack River under the Interstate 495 bridge in Haverhill last month. A construction worker was killed and another flown to a Boston hospital after a fall onto a barge, according to the Essex County District Attorney’s Office.

HAVERHILL — The state Department of Transportation has approved limited construction on Haverhill’s Interstate 495 bridge replacement one month after an accident left a worker dead and another seriously injured.

Work resumed Dec. 16, according to MassDOT spokeswoman Kristen Pennucci, after the general contractor submitted a plan detailing more stringent safety protocols.

The construction is limited to structural work on the new northbound bridge, Pennucci said.

Dennis Robertson of Manchester, New Hampshire, was working alongside Carlos Leon 50 feet above the Merrimack River on Nov. 27 when both men fell from the bucket of a lift truck onto a barge below.

Robertson was killed and Leon remains hospitalized.

It is not clear if mechanical or operator error was a factor.

Occupational Health and Safety Administration spokesman Jim Lally confirms the federal agency is looking into Johnston, Rhode Island-based employer J.R. Vinagro. OSHA’s investigation, which looks into possible workplace safety violations, is expected to be completed by May, Lally said.

Mike Gagliardi, the business manager for Laborers Union 175 that represents both men, said returning to the job site is bittersweet.

“It’s tough. It’s very difficult to go back. It’s very difficult for the first responders and workers who were there that day,” Gagliardi said. “There are grief counselors available that they’re taking advantage of as they mourn the loss of their coworker and friend.”

A charity fund has been set up to support Robertson’s children through their father’s union, Gagliardi said.

Donations may be mailed to the attention of Local 175 in care of the Dennis Robertson Children’s Charity Fund, 55 Union St., Methuen, MA 01844.

As Leon recovers from multiple surgeries, efforts to defray his medical expenses are also underway.

Donations to help that injured worker can be sent to 20 Carter St., Tewksbury, MA 01876.

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