| Connect Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook
About | Subscribe | Advertise


Download our free ebook on Advances in Corrosion Control Coating Technology

Paint and Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

OSHA Sues Contractor over Fired Worker

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

More items for Health & Safety

Comment | More

Federal regulators are suing an Alabama structural relocation company for allegedly firing an employee who refused to work in a collapsing trench.

The U.S. Department of Labor has sued DKS Structural Services, doing business as Don Kennedy and Sons House Moving Co., and owner Jeffrey Kennedy for allegedly terminating an employee who refused to enter a trench that was not adequately protected to prevent cave-ins.

Photos: Don Kennedy and Sons House Moving Co.

DKS specializes in structural relocation, foundation repair, and leveling. The Department of Labor is suing the company for alleged wrongful termination.

The lawsuit followed a complaint filed by the employee and subsequent investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

DKS Structural Services declined to respond to a request for comment. The company moves bridges, foundations, houses and other structures.

Unprotected Trench, Additional Citations

On Jan. 16, according to OSHA, the employee was directed to work in six- to 15-foot-deep trenches at the company's job site in Huntsville, AL. The walls of one trench, about 15 feet deep, began to slide and cave in,  OSHA reported.

The ladder that was used to get in and out of the trench then broke from the mud and dirt caving in, and the employee was directed to enter the trench by being lowered in the bucket of a backhoe.

The employee said he did not want to go back into such a deep trench without protection from further cave-ins. The employer allegedly told him to "get in the hole or go home." The employee refused to enter the unprotected excavation and was immediately fired, OSHA stated.

"When an employer fails to correct a hazardous condition, workers have the right to refuse to enter an unsafe area without fearing retaliation," said Cindy Coe, OSHA's regional administrator in Atlanta. "Employers violating this basic right will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

OSHA found that the company terminated the worker for engaging in activity protected by Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which prohibits retaliation against employees who report or refuse to work in unsafe conditions.

A former employee claims that he was fired immediately after refusing to go into a 15-foot-deep trench that was not protected against cave-ins.

In addition to investigating the employee's complaint, OSHA conducted an inspection of the work site. On July 9, OSHA issued citations for two willful and two serious violations related to excavation and personal protective equipment standards.

Willful citations are OSHA's highest level of infraction, reserved for violations committed with "intentional knowledge or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health."

The proposed penalties totaled $122,400. The case is still pending.

The department's lawsuit seeks back wages, interest, and compensatory and punitive damages for the employee. Additionally, it requests that the employee's personnel records be expunged with respect to the matters at issue in this case, the employer be barred against future violations of the OSH Act by a permanent injunction, and any other appropriate relief.

The employee's name was not released. OSHA does not identify whistleblowers.



Tagged categories: Bridges; Health and safety; Labor; Lawsuits; OSHA

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (12/18/2012, 8:15 AM)

Sure, that's a safe workplace. C'mon - the trench is only in the process of collapsing - get on in there!

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.


The Next Generation
of Blasting

• Lightest
• Coolest
• Most Comfortable
• Most Dependable

Clemco Industries Corp.
Powerful Protection in a Small Package

Mounts inside blast helmet, alerts operator to dangerous breathing-air condition by audible, visual, and vibratory alarms. Easily calibrated, battery operated.

SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings

Join SSPC and Enhance
Your Career !

Wasser High-Tech Coatings Inc.
Wasser Coatings Protect

Wasser Coatings offer a complete range of Moisture Cure Urethane (NEPCOAT approved) systems in addition to Polyurea membranes and linings(NSF).

Minerals Research & Recovery


“Made in the USA!”

Why recycle waste from other countries? Go FASTER, CLEANER, at 1/3 THE COST with MR&R “All-American” Sharpshot®HP!!


SAFE Systems, Inc.
Enduroguard -
The Tough Cable
for a Tough Industry.

Reduce maintenance costs and down time, increase job site safety with Enduroguard Cable. Available exclusively from SAFE Systems. UL listed, flexible, abrasion resistant and cut resistant.

Abrasives Inc.
Check our Prices for Blast Abrasives

Faced with higher abrasive costs? We invite you to call & check our rates on Black Magic® coal slag and other quality blast materials. Abrasives Inc. 800-584-7524

US Minerals
US Minerals -
Black Magnum

With nationwide production and distribution capabilities, U.S. Minerals supplies a complete range of coal slag and other abrasives to meet all of your blasting needs.

CS Unitec
Work Cleaner and Safer

CS Unitec’s Vibro-Lo low-vibration scalers offer high performance for greater productivity & improved operator comfort. Optional dust shroud.

Safway Services
One Source. Every Solution.

The Safway Group is your source for multiservices. Painting, coating, insulation and more – all from the most trusted name in the industry.

Technology Publishing

The Technology Publishing Network

The Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings (JPCL) PaintSquare
Durability + Design Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us

© Copyright 2000-2015, Technology Publishing / PaintSquare, All rights reserved
2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951; Tel 1-412-431-8300; Fax 1-412-431-5428; E-mail