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OSHA Cites Atlantic Drain For 18 Violations In Trench Collapse Deaths

BOSTON (CBS) -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the company whose workers died in a trench collapse last October.

OSHA found that the company, Atlantic Drain Service Co. Inc., violated 18 regulations--including not guarding the trench and not providing safety training to employees.

"The deaths of these two men could have and should have been prevented," Galen Blanton, OSHA's New England Regional Administrator, said in a statement. "Their employer, which previously had been cited by OSHA for the same hazardous conditions, knew what safeguards were needed to protect its employees but chose to ignore that responsibility."

south end worker dies in trench
The company was digging a trench on Dartmouth Street in the South End on Oct. 21, 2016 when it flooded and the walls collapsed. (WBZ-TV)

Robert Higgins and Kelvin Mattocks died when they became trapped beneath the water in a trench on Dartmouth Street on October 21, 2016, following a water main break.

The trench was 14 feet deep, but was not secured.

OSHA is proposing a fine of close to $1.5 million.

Ted Fitzgerald, Regional Director for Public Affairs of the US Labor Department, said penalties of that size are not common.

"We've only had two cases in New England in the past 20 years in which the proposed penalties exceeded $1 million," he said.

The full list of violations found by OSHA can be viewed here.

Atlantic Drain is already facing criminal charges in the deaths of the two workers. The company's owner, Kevin Otto, pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges in February.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Doug Cope reports

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