Department of Labor Logo
OSHA Regional News Brief
Region 1

Please note: As of January 20, 2021, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.



U.S. Department of Labor | September 27, 2016 BOS 2016-154


OSHA: Methuen cave-in "could have been prevented"
ET&L Construction Corp. faces $119K in fines for willful, serious safety violations

Employer name: E.T. & L. Construction Corp., a Stow, Massachusetts, heavy construction contractor.

Inspection site: Lowell St., between North Lowell and Bolduc streets, Methuen, Mass.

What prompted OSHA's inspection: On June 15, 2016, two E.T. & L. Construction Corp. employees were working in a 12-foot deep trench when a concrete duct encasing utility wiring that was suspended above the trench collapsed into the trench, causing a cave-in.

Investigation findings: An investigation by the Andover Area Office of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that the employees were exposed to crushing and struck-by hazards due to their employer's failure to comply with OSHA trenching and excavation safety standards.

Specifically, E.T. & L. Construction failed to adequately protect the trench against collapse and did not provide proper support for the duct bank to prevent it from falling into the trench. In addition, the steel alloy chain used to support the duct bank was not properly labeled to show if it could carry the load and the trench's protective system was not designed and used according to manufacturer's specifications.

As a result of these conditions, OSHA cited E.T. & L. Construction Corp. for one willful and three serious violations.

Proposed penalties: $119,597

QUOTE: "This cave-in could have been prevented if the employer had properly protected the trench against collapse and provided effective support for the duct bank. While it's fortunate that no one was killed or severely injured in this case, this incident should never have happened. Employers must not allow their employees to enter a trench unless it has been properly safeguarded against collapse. The workers' lives and well-being depend on this," said Anthony Covello, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties.

Link to citations: Here.

E.T. & L. Construction Corp. has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or OSHA's Andover Area Office at 978-837-4460.

# # #

Media Contact:

Ted Fitzgerald, 617-565-2075,
James C. Lally, 617-565-2074,

Release Number: 16-1934-BOS

U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).