Railroad Workers Better Protected Under New Agreement

There is a new memorandum of agreement between officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

This new agreement is going to facilitate cooperation and coordination between the two agencies regarding the enforcement of the FRA’s whistleblower provision. This provision will provide better protection for workers who choose to raise concerns of safety violations at railroads across the country. Workers were not always provided with the best protection under these circumstances and were often retaliated against. Under federal law, employers are not allowed to retaliate against workers who fear for their safety on the job and report a hazard or an accident.
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There are a number of regulations and safety standards that have been created that are supposed to be enforced by officials with the FRA, rail labor organizations and rail stakeholders. Oftentimes, inspections, education and enforcement are the most effective measures taken to help ensure the safety of everyone involved in the system. Unfortunately, these measures are not always taken by rail companies and organizations. That’s when officials have to step in. Currently, officials with the FRA have broad authority over the safety of the fleet but is not able to address whistleblower incidents.

Our Asheville workers’ compensation attorneys understand that the safety of these workers heavily relies on their ability to report a danger, a hazard, an accident or an injury. They need not fear retaliation, the loss of their job or anything else. A closed system means these kinds of incidents will not be reported and safety on the job will be compromised. Rail workers, as with all other workers in the country, have rights to a safe and healthy work environment and have the right to speak up about potential dangers.

“Securing a process that protects employees who report safety violations is critical to maintaining safety standards in the workplace,” said Joseph Szabo, FRA Administrator.

The number of whistleblower complaints within this industry has risen in recent year. From 2007 to 2012, there were nearly 1,000 reported to OSHA officials under only the FRSA. Nearly 65 percent of these complaints said that an employee was retaliated against after reporting a work accident or injury.

Now, officials with the FRA will have specific instructions to follow when dealing with whistleblower complaints. Officials with the FRA will have to hand over a copy of each complaint to OSHA. OSHA officials will be providing FRA members with the proper training to deal with these complaints, with effective measures to eliminate acts of retaliation and to help to recognize potential violations of railroad safety standards and regulations.

Lastly, officials with both parties will be working together to help to make sure that both illness and injury reports are as accurate as possible.

If you’ve been injured in a work accident in Asheville or elsewhere in the Carolinas, contact the Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Lee Law Offices, P.A. Call us today to schedule a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-887-1965.

More Blog Entries:

Employee Rights in Asheville and Elsewhere Following Termination, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, July 11, 2012

Work Accidents in Rock Hill and Elsewhere Likely with Real Estate Company’s Disregard, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, July 2, 2012

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