April 23, 2014

OSHA elevates whistleblower priority

WASHINGTON – Whistleblower protection administered by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been elevated in agency priority, with the program now administered directly by OSHA’s assistant secretary of labor. The Department of Labor said the administrative change was an effort “to strengthen employees’ voices in the workplace.” “The ability of [...]

OSHA raps UP again for whistleblower violation

Once again, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered a railroad to reinstate an employee and pay him back wages for violating an employee’s rights as a whistleblower. In the latest OSHA order, Union Pacific was ordered immediately to reinstate an employee in Idaho and pay him back wages, compensatory [...]

OSHA putting teeth in rail whistle-blower law

OSHA logo; OSHA

For too many years, many railroads have tied managerial bonuses to low reportable injury rates among employees, creating a culture of fear through harassment and intimidation – a culture that discourages the reporting by workers of on-duty injuries and allows railroads to claim an industry safety award accompanied by glowing press releases as to its [...]

Conductor wins $125,000 in whistle-blower complaint

A Wisconsin Central conductor has won a whistle-blower complaint against the carrier – collecting more than $125,000 in compensatory and punitive damages – for unlawful harassment and intimidation as the result of reporting an injury. This was the third successful whistle-blower complaint filed against a railroad in recent months for violation of a worker’s rights under the [...]

Transport-employee fatigue continues to kill

While sleep scientists have established that going to work fatigued is like going to work drunk, there remains a disconnect among those who manage transportation firms. And people are needlessly dying and being seriously injured as a result. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood June 1 criticized his own Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for not sooner [...]

OSHA follows through on whistle-blower complaints

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. — A Union Pacific machinist here was ordered rehired with back pay in a ruling by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) that found Union Pacific violated the worker’s rights under the Federal Rail Safety Act of 2007. OSHA ruled that in firing the machinist, after he had reported a work-related [...]

Worker input crucial to reducing rail risks

If a congressionally ordered railroad risk reduction program is to be effective, the Federal Railroad Administration must include railroad employees and their labor unions in the process of evaluating and managing the program. That is the message seven rail labor organizations sent to the FRA Feb. 8 in response to an earlier FRA notice of [...]

OSHA puts its own ‘hickory stick’ to BNSF

A UTU member will be collecting more than $95,000 in penalties assessed against BNSF by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) for the railroad’s violation of the Federal Rail Safety Act. OSHA found BNSF guilty of intimidating and harassing an injured UTU member who reported his workplace injury to the Federal Railroad Administration. The [...]

UP inaugurates “close call” project

Employees at the nation’s largest rail yard, the Union Pacific yard in North Platte, Neb., can now voluntarily and anonymously report “close-call” incidents that could have resulted in an accident, but did not, without fear of sanction or penalty from their employer or the federal government. The program, initiated at the request of the UTU [...]

Rail Safety Alert #4: Documentation

The value of detailed documentation can never be overstated. UTU members have been empowered to address the issue of harassment and intimidation though federal whistleblower protection that is written into law. This protection already has had a positive impact. Recently, an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which followed information from a [...]