An air ambulance service mechanic who was fired after raising concerns about helicopter safety has been ordered reinstated to his position after an investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration found the person was wrongfully terminated.
The U.S. Department of Labor announced Friday that a federal whistleblower investigation found that the helicopter mechanic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was fired in late September 2022, shortly after the mechanic filed a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration over mechanical safety concerns.
The mechanic reported initial concerns about a helicopter belonging to his employer, Avera Careflight of Sioux Falls, a division of Avera McKennan, in July 2022, and then continued to discuss safety issues with a supervisor and the manufacturer̵7;s national technical representative over a period of several months, according to OSHA.
The mechanic filed the FAA complaint after believing the problems were left unresolved.
OSHA said federal law protects employees who refuse to perform work when they believe the assignments would cause them to violate aviation safety regulations.
In addition to reinstatement, OSHA also ordered the company to pay the mechanic more than $30,600 in back wages and $25,000 in damages and to remove all adverse personnel reports.
The employer has 30 days to contest OSHA’s findings.