Trenching Citations Carry $122,400 in Proposed Penalties

OSHA said its investigation was triggered by a whistleblower's complaint.

OSHA announced it has cited a Huntsville, Ala., contractor, DKS Structural Services Inc. (doing business as Don Kennedy and Sons House Moving Co.) for four alleged willful and serious trenching violations and has proposed more than $122,400 in fines against the company. The announcement also said OSHA has referred the case to the Labor Department's Office of the Solicitor for potential litigation.

The investigation began after a whistleblower filed a complaint claiming he was terminated for refusing to enter an unprotected trench while performing foundation repair work at 1200 Shadow Ridge Drive in Huntsville, according to OSHA. Two of the violations were classified as willful and two as serious.

"This employer knowingly put workers at risk of serious injury or death by ordering them back to work in an unprotected trench after experiencing a cave-in," said Lisa Strunk, OSHA's acting area director in Birmingham, Ala. "Risking the safety of workers is not an acceptable business decision."

For information about OSHA standards for trenches and excavations, visit http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html. The citations in this case can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/DKS_Structural_Services_316228519_0711_12.pdf.

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