Massachusetts Court Sentences Contractor Convicted for Manslaughter And Witness Intimidation in Deadly 2016 Trench Collapse
BOSTON, MA – The Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston, Massachusetts, recently sentenced Atlantic Drain Service Company Inc. owner Kevin Otto to two years imprisonment on each of two counts of manslaughter, to run concurrently, and three years of probation for witness intimidation. The court’s action follows a U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation into a trench collapse on October 21, 2016, that led to two fatal injuries of two employees.
The witness intimidation charge resulted from the defendant’s attempts to mislead OSHA during the investigation of the collapse. The court also fined Atlantic Drain $1,000 for each count of manslaughter, and $5,000 for witness intimidation, totaling $7,000.
“Employers that display willful disregard for employee safety and/or obstruct, mislead or otherwise interfere with an OSHA inspection will face serious consequences,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton in Boston, Massachusetts. “The court agreed Kevin Otto knew what safeguards were needed and required to protect his employees, yet he chose to ignore his responsibility to provide them. The result was the loss of two men.”
“The U.S. Department of Labor thanks the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office which prosecuted the case, with assistance from the Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Office of Inspector General and Office of the Solicitor, as well as the Boston Police Homicide Division,” said the U.S. Department of Labor’s Regional Solicitor Maia Fisher, in Boston.
The judge’s decision also stated Atlantic Drain and any company owned and operated by Otto may not employ, directly or indirectly, anyone working in a trench deeper than four feet during his three-year probation.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.