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Worker Reinstated after Secret Filming

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

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A railroad machinist who was fired after secretly recording a test of faulty equipment will return to his position with back pay and damages, federal officials announced.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says Union Pacific Railroad violated federal whistleblower provisions when it suspended an employee after he refused to delete video footage of an air-compressor test aboard a locomotive.

Union Pacific Railway
©iStock / jmoor17

OSHA ordered Union Pacific Railroad to pay $51,000 in back pay to an employee the company suspended after he refused to delete video footage of machinery testing.

OSHA has ordered Union Pacific, the largest railroad in North America, to pay $51,000 in punitive damages and back pay and reasonable attorney's fees to the employee, based in Carson, CA.

OSHA does not publicly identify whistleblowers.

Equipment Deemed Unsafe

The day before being suspended, the employee deemed the compressor unsafe and unusable, but a supervisor disagreed and overturned his decision, according to OSHA investigators.

At some point, the employee also videotaped a "safety inspection" and "machinery testing" of the equipment, OSHA said.

A few days later, the employee told management that he had sent the video to the Federal Railroad Administration. 

In addition to paying back wages and damages, OSHA ordered Union Pacific Railroad to amend its policy of banning cell-phone recordings of safety activities.

11 Whistleblower Violations

"Recording safety inspections on locomotives is protected by federal law," said Ken Atha, regional administrator for OSHA in San Francisco. "Workplace protections, such as these, ensure transparency, accountability, and freedom to raise safety concerns in the workplace without fear of retaliation."

According to OSHA, this is the 11th time in four years that Union Pacific Railroad has been found in violation of the whistleblower protection provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act. In one of those incidents, an employee was ordered reinstated after he reported an on-the-job injury.

Under the FRSA, an employee of a railroad carrier or a contractor or subcontractor is protected from retaliation for reporting certain safety and security violations.

   

Tagged categories: Federal Railroad Administration; Health & Safety; Inspection; North America; OSHA; Rail; Railcars; Video; Whistle blowing

Comment from Car F., (10/15/2014, 2:10 PM)

It is surprising that after 11 times the company executives are still free and not serving time for their reckless actions. Railway accident can have terrible consequences, not only for the workers, but for the communities should a derailment, a fire or an explosion was to occur due to safety violations. It is so important that they have their own legislation and their own police.


Comment from paul graham, (10/15/2014, 7:49 PM)

This definitely is wreckless administration and the supervisor should be accountable totally in overriding a safety issue as such.All the big corps are doing it and it has to stop.The is such funds that can be allocated for safety enforcement in these large company's. The big three do it every day in every department in every plant. I commend the employee for what he did .


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