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OSHA, rail company sign accord for voluntary whistleblower improvement

January 16, 2013

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Washington – One of the nation’s largest railway companies has signed an accord with OSHA to promise revisions to personnel policies that the agency says violated whistleblower provisions.

BNSF Railway Co. is accused of having policies that dissuade workers from reporting on-the-job injuries, a violation of an Federal Railroad Safety Act provision that protects workers from retaliation for reporting suspected violations of federal law.

In the accord with OSHA, the Fort Worth, TX-based rail company promises several actions, including:

  • Changing its disciplinary policy so injuries play no role in determining how long an employee’s probation lasts following a record suspension for a serious rule violation
  • Eliminating a policy assigning points to employees who experience on-the-job injuries
  • Eliminating the requirement that work-related injuries are the basis for enrollment in a safety counseling and prescribed operations testing program
  • Instituting a training program for managers and human resource professionals regarding their responsibilities under the FRSA

OSHA administrator David Michaels said the accord “sets the tone” for encouraging railroad employers across the country to take steps to ensure workers are not harassed for reporting workplace injuries.

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