YARDMASTER DEPARTMENT AWARDS
AWARDS 95 - FAILURE TO REPORT INJURY PROMPTLY
"Therefore, this Board concludes that there is sufficient substantial evidence in the record from which to conclude that Claimant violated Rules E and 4004 as charged. Because of the need to promptly report such injuries, the Board cannot conclude that the sixty (60) day suspension was so excessive as to be arbitrary, unreasonable or capricious."
"What is clear from this record is the Claimant's failure to immediately report his injury and the resulting violation of Carrier's Safety Rule.
"It is for the protection of both the Employee and the Carrier that safety procedures require immediate and accurate information regarding workplace injuries. Delays in reporting, place both parties at risk and create potential liabilities that may be avoided if safety rules are properly followed. We find the Carrier's disciplinary action to be a reasonable, measured response to Claimant's clear rule violation and therefore uphold its action and deny this claim."
"In this case, Claimant marked off duty on May 31 and June 1 yet did not inform the Carrier of the accident. Claimant was particularly vague on June 1 when, presumably his leg kept him from work, yet he told the Carrier he was marking off duty due to personal illness.
"More importantly, Claimant was on crutches for several days before Carrier officers learned of the injury. Claimant could easily have left a message with crew management or the Trainmaster's assistant. In sum, Claimant had many opportunities to inform the Trainmaster or Superintendent about his injury long before June 6, 1991. Indeed, if Claimant had properly reported the injury on May 30, the Carrier could have made certain Claimant immediately received medical treatment. Because he went without medical care for two days, Claimant may very well have aggravated his leg injury.
"In summary, Claimant failed to comply with the rule requiring prompt reporting of a personal injury and the five day suspension was consistent with Section 1(b) of the Carrier's disciplinary policy."
"On March 7, 1991, Claimant, a Machinist, was operating a Gallion Crane at Carrier's Hamlet, North Carolina, Shop. While dismounting from the Crane, Claimant stepped on the outrigger tire, instead of the factory-installed step. He fell to the ground and injured himself. He did not report the accident, even though he experienced some pain. On March 21, 1991, Claimant advised his Supervisor that he slipped and fell about two weeks earlier. He was told by his Supervisor to report the injury to Carrier's General Supervisor-Work Equipment. Claimant failed to follow these orders and did not report the incident to the General Supervisor until April 8, 1991. He told the Supervisor at this time that he was seeing a Nurse who prescribed pain medication. Claimant eventually went to a doctor and a report was completed for him.
"As a result of these events, Claimant was charged with two Rule infractions: a violation of Rule 11 and a violation of Rule 40. Rule 11 speaks to the need of employees to avoid stepping on objects that might cause them to fall and Rule 40 addresses an employee's obligation to report personal injuries immediately.
"A hearing into the matter was held on May 1, 1991. As a result of that hearing, Claimant was found guilty as charged and assessed a 20-day suspension.
"This Board has reviewed the record in this matter and we agree with Carrier that Claimant was in violation of Safety Rules, which constitutes a serious infraction. Carrier assessed a 20-day suspension in this instance. Based on this record, the Board has no reason to object to that penalty."
"The Organization argues that employees cannot report every ache and pain. Moreover, injuries sometimes take time to manifest themselves. With this the Board agrees. However, this is not a situation where an incident occurred which was not necessarily recognizable as an injury until it later manifests itself. First of all, the Claimant was quite clear that he injured his knee at the time he did it. It 'hurt,' he said. He knew at the time he had an injury. He compounded his error by not reporting the injury immediately when his knee swelled. While he did not think it was serious, that is not his judgment to make. This is precisely why the Carrier has rules requiring prompt reporting. They are entitled to know when injuries occur, even if not serious, so they can make the judgment as to whether it requires medical attention and/or time off. They are entitled to make this judgment because they are usually the liable party if continued work activity aggravates the injury into something worse.
"The real question here is not whether the Claimant violated the rules, but whether the disciplinary penalty is appropriate. It seems on the face of it that some five months off is a stiff penalty. However, such rule violations are extremely serious, particularly where, as in this case, the Claimant has had past experience in reporting injuries. Moreover, it is noted that discharge has often been upheld under similar circumstances. While there is mitigation in his favor, such as a good discipline record and the fact there is no evidence suggesting fraud, it is not enough to warrant reducing the discipline. The mitigation is deserving of consideration. However, to no greater extent than the lenience the Carrier showed him by offering reinstatement."
"Effective September 17, 1991, Claimant was dismissed from service for failing to properly report an injury he allegedly sustained on May 28, 1991. The record discloses that Claimant first advised the Carrier he had been injured when he reported it to the Claims Department, which then notified his supervisor. Carrier's Rule X requires the immediate reporting of personal injuries suffered by employees.
"According to Claimant's testimony, he thought he had aggravated a pre-existing back problem on May 28, 1991, the last day he worked before being furloughed for approximately three months. Three weeks later, Claimant sought medical attention for his back, at which time he was told this was a new injury. Claimant stated he had previously injured his back while at work, but had not reported that injury because he thought it was just a strain and it went away. He did not report this new injury until he was recalled for service.
"This was Claimant's fifth personal injury while at work. Three of his previous injuries required him to lose between 66 and 219 days of work. Certainly, Claimant was familiar with Carrier's requirement regarding the prompt reporting of on-duty injuries. There is no question that he failed to meet this requirement in this case. Under the circumstances, we find no basis to disturb the Carrier's decision. The disciplinary action, in light of Claimant's record and the nature of the offense, was neither arbitrary nor unreasonable."
"Failure to report an injury timely is a serious breach of Carrier Rules, warranting discipline. A five day suspension for such a violation is not inappropriate. The claim will be denied."
"There are a number of issues to this particular claim which we have carefully reviewed and considered. However, we find it unnecessary to comment upon these issues because they are not determinative of the dispute. Nonetheless, a comment is appropriate with respect to the Claimant's letter of May 10, 1991. While we note that the Board may not properly consider the issues and questions brought forth in his letter because the record was closed after the hearing, we conclude, arquendo, that even if the Claimant's contentions are accepted, he still clearly failed to comply with the same rather basic requirements of which he was well-aware. Specifically, the requirement to fill out an injury report on November 28, 1990 and to comply with his Supervisor's reasonable orders. He failed to do both.
"In view of all of the foregoing, we must deny the claim."
"Study of the Investigation transcript convinces this Board that Claimant was aware on January 29, 1993, that he had experienced an incident which could be an injury. Therefore, the provisions of Rule 4004 of the Safety, Radio and General Rules for all Employees, Form 7908, revised October 1989, reading in pertinent part:
"While Claimant may honestly have felt that his injuries were insufficient to warrant filing of a written report, that judgment was not his to make. Unrefuted testimony at the Investigation established that while a Foreman may allow an employee the option of not filing a written injury report in the case of truly minor injuries, the occurrence of the injury is still reported by the Foreman to the appropriate Carrier officer. Accordingly, employees are obliged to report injuries, however, minor, when the injuries occur."
Last modified: April 29, 2005