Two employees of ET&L Construction Corp. escaped serious injury when the 12-foot deep trench they were working in on June 15, 2016, caved in.

That didn’t prevent OSHA from issuing the both Stow, Massachusetts-based E.T. & L and Crown Equipment Corp. for a variety of willful and serious violations.

The incident occurred when a concrete duct encasing utility wiring that was suspended above the trench collapsed into the trench, causing a cave-in. An investigation by the Andover Area OSHA office determined that their employer 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 Crown Equipment Corp. for one willful and three serious violations. Proposed penalties are $119,597.

“While it's fortunate that no one was killed or severely injured in this case, this incident should never have happened,” said Anthony Covello, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties. “Employers must not allow their employees to enter a trench unless it has been properly safeguarded against collapse.”