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Wed December 06 2023

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Witness intimidation adds to sentence in US trench collapse case

16 Dec 19 The owner of a US contractor has been sentenced to time in jail plus three years on probation following his conviction for manslaughter and witness intimidation in relation to a trench collapse.

The Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston, Massachusetts, 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 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.

The court’s action follows a US Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) investigation into a trench collapse on 21st October 2016 that led to 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 US$1,000 (£750) for each count of manslaughter, and US$5,000 for witness intimidation, totalling US$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. “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.”

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