Worker Deaths Lead to Manslaughter Conviction for Owner of Drain Service Company

The owner of Atlantic Drain Service in Boston was accused of ignoring safety regulations that could have saved his two employees who were killed in the 2016 job site incident

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Safety lessons are always at the forefront in this industry when tragedy strikes on the job site and workers are killed in incidents like trench collapses.

The safety lessons are especially pronounced for a case in Boston where the owner of a drain service company was recently convicted of two counts of manslaughter and one count of witness intimidation.

A Dec. 4 sentencing date is now scheduled for Kevin Otto, owner of Atlantic Drain Service. It all stems from an Oct. 21, 2016, work site incident that killed two Atlantic Drain Service employees. Prosecutors accused 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.

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. 

Prosecutors say the trench had no shoring despite an expandable metal trench box being on site and claimed Otto was pushing the men to work faster because the project was behind schedule. At the time of the incident, Atlantic Drain Service 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.

“Today’s verdicts will not ease the pain of the families of Mr. Higgins and Mr. Mattocks, but it sends a strong message that, in Suffolk County, those who willfully risk their employees’ lives will face criminal consequences,” District Attorney Rachael Rollins says in a statement, according to the Boston Herald.

Source: Boston Herald


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