DuraLabel's Weekly Safety News

Blog Author Angelique Sanders

Weekly safety news. Stay in touch with regulations from OSHA, NFPA, and other safety codes. Find out about other companies' best and worst practices. We scour the internet to provide you with helpful training resources and the latest safety information.

Monday, July 23, 2012

OSHA Orders Two Railroads To Pay Three Employees More Than $650,000

Illinois Central Railroad Locomotive.
Photo by Nate Beal
OSHA has ordered two railroad companies to pay three workers a total of $650,729.14 in back wages and damages for retaliating against them for reporting workplace injuries and safety concerns. The orders resulted from investigations conducted by the Chicago office of the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which were initiated upon receiving complaints from the employees.

OSHA conducted the investigations under the whistleblower provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act, as amended by the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007. Railroad carriers are subject to the FRSA, which protects employees who report violations of any federal law, rule or regulation relating to railroad safety or security, or who engage in other protected activities.

OSHA determined that Illinois Central Railroad violated the FRSA by retaliating against two employees in separate incidents for reporting workplace injuries at the Markham Railroad Yard in Markham, Ill.

The first employee, a conductor, was injured in August 2008 when he was knocked unconscious and sustained injuries to his shoulder, back and head while switching railcars in the Markham Yard. A knuckle that connects the cars allegedly broke, causing the cars to suddenly jolt and the employee to fall. The railroad held an investigative hearing and consequently terminated the conductor, alleging that he had violated safety rules. However, OSHA found that the worker was terminated in reprisal for reporting a work-related injury. The department's order requires the railroad to pay the conductor a total of $269,707.27, which includes $81,393.49 in back wages, $4,695.78 in vacation pay, $4,368 for medical bills and $4,250 in attorney's fees, as well as punitive damages of $100,000 and compensatory damages of $75,000.

The second employee, a carman, reported an arm/shoulder injury that occurred in February 2008. While walking along a platform to inspect railcars in the poorly lit yard, the carman slipped on ice and tried to catch himself, which jolted his left arm and shoulder. The railroad held an investigative hearing and consequently terminated the carman's employment for allegedly violating the company's injury reporting procedures. OSHA concluded that the carman had properly reported the injury, and has ordered the railroad to reinstate the worker if he is medically released by his physician and passes a functional capacity evaluation. Additionally, the railroad must pay the employee a total of $154,694, including $14,694 in back wages, punitive damages of $75,000 and compensatory damages of $65,000. Illinois Central Railroad also must provide a copy of OSHA's "Whistleblower Protection for Railroad Workers" fact sheet to every employee at the Markham Yard.

In the third incident, OSHA determined that Chicago Fort Wayne & Eastern Railroad violated the FRSA by terminating a conductor in retaliation for raising concerns about workplace safety while serving in his role as local chairman of the union and for reporting that a trainmaster had instructed him to operate a train in violation of certain Federal Railroad Administration rules in June 2009 near Fort Wayne, Ind. The railroad alleged that the conductor was terminated for failing to pass a locomotive engineer certification test. OSHA's order requires the railroad to provide the conductor with training and another opportunity to pass the test, and then upon his passing the test to reinstate his employment under the same terms and conditions as if he had passed the exam in 2009. Furthermore, the railroad must pay the conductor a total of $226,327.87, including back wages of $67,736.12, compensatory damages of $75,000, punitive damages of $75,000 and attorney's fees of $8,591.75.

The respondents and the complainants have 30 days from receipt of these findings to file objections and to request a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Related Past Posts:
OSHA FilesWhistleblower Lawsuit Against NJ ConstructionCompany
Get Ready For A More Aggressive OSHA
OSHA Orders UPS To Pay Damages To Triuck Driver


posted by Steve Hudgik
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