OSHA has ruled that Union Pacific Railroad violated federal whistle-blower provisions when it suspended a machinist who recorded a safety inspection and then forwarded it to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). OSHA ordered the railroad to pay the machinist $51,000 in back pay and damages plus reasonable attorney fees.
The dispute arose after the machinist, based in Carson, determined an air compressor was unsafe and unusable. His supervisor overturned that decision. The machinist then made a video recording of the next safety inspection. Railroad officials demanded he delete the video. Instead, he sent it to FRA.
OSHA ruled the railroads’ ban on recording safety inspections was illegal and should be rescinded.
Note: Regulators are very sensitive toissues and generally require employers to be transparent when addressing them. Federal law protects employees who reveal employer attempts to cover up safety problems.