A whistleblower complaint led OSHA to investigate a construction site. The agency found enough violations to levy a six-figure fine.
DKS Structural Services of Huntsville, AL, dba Don Kennedy and Sons House Moving Co., faces four trenching citations:
- a willful violation for failing to provide a safe means of entrance and exit from an excavation
- a willful violation for not providing cave-in protection for employees working in a trench that was 15-feet deep
- a serious violation for exposing employees to fall and crushing hazards by allowing them to stand in a backhoe bucket to lower and raise them in the excavation, and
- a serious violation for exposing workers to struck-by hazards from loose soil, rocks and equipment by not having them wear heat protection.
The whistleblower claims he was terminated for refusing to enter an unprotected trench.
OSHA’s trenching standards mandate all excavations five feet or deeper be protected against collapse.
The whistleblower investigation has been referred to the Department of Labor’s Office of the Solicitor for possible litigation.
The company has 15 business days to decide whether to contest the citations.