Boston Contractor Indicted for Fatal Trench Collapse

Prosecutors accuse Atlantic Drain Services of ignoring safety regulations, as well as using forged documents to indicate required safety classes had been completed.

A Boston contractor is facing criminal charges in connection with a work site incident that killed two of its employees last October.

According to a report in the Boston Globe, Atlantic Drain Services and its owner Kevin Otto each face multiple charges, including two counts of manslaughter. Prosecutors accuse the company and Otto of ignoring safety regulations that could have saved the two men who were killed, then forging documents suggesting required safety classes had been completed.

Along with the announcement of the charges last week was the first detailed description of what exactly happened Oct. 21, 2016, when Kelvin Mattocks, 53, and Robert Higgins, 47, were killed while working on a water and sewer project in a 14-foot-deep trench. The two men were buried to their waists after the trench collapsed. Then a fire hydrant that had been supported by the collapsed dirt was suspended by the water supply line, causing the line to break and fill the trench in seconds. Co-workers tried to save the two men, but the deep and fast-flowing water hindered their attempts.

Daniel Conley, one of the prosecutors, says the trench had no shoring despite an expandable metal trench box being on site. At the time of the incident, Atlantic Drain was also facing OSHA fines from past cases. Since then the Boston City Council passed an ordinance requiring companies to report whether they are in good standing with OSHA before receiving work permits. Otto also allegedly forged employees’ signatures to make it appear as if trench safety courses — required due to the OSHA violations — had been completed.

“This isn’t something that has happened frequently in Massachusetts, but it’s a growing tool that DAs are recognizing is available when there are employers that recklessly put their employees in harm’s way. This was so egregious,” Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, told the Boston Globe.

Source: Boston Globe


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.