Several rail companies were ordered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to pay back wages and punitive fines for punishing employees who reported workplace injuries. Grand Trunk Western Railway Co., a subsidiary of the Canadian National Railway, will have to compensate four workers who were suspended in violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act. Additionally, Union Pacific is being asked to reimburse one of its employees for suspending him without salary after he reported an injury involving fumes from a battery fire.
Grand Trunk will have to pay a total of $85,580 while Union Pacific is being fined $11,000.
"When employees are disciplined for reporting workplace injuries, safety concerns or illnesses, worker safety and health are clearly not the company's priority," Nick Walters, OSHA's regional administrator in Chicago, said in a news release. "More than 60 percent of the FRSA complaints filed with OSHA against railroad companies involve an allegation that a railroad worker has been retaliated against for reporting an on-the-job injury."
OSHA is particularly aggressive in prosecuting employers who punish their staff for reporting injuries and inadequate safety precautions, such as a failure to provide safety glasses. The agency has whistleblower protections in place that are intended to discourage such actions by employers.
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