OSHA Region V recently gave a presentation on their focus on retaliation cases, including an intense scrutiny of rules and discipline related to failure to timely report workplace injuries.
These comments reflect the OSHA National emphasis I keep harping about (see my various posts on safety incentive programs).
If you would like to see what OSHA attacks, check out the January 15 Accord between OSHA and a major rail road which OSHA accused of dissuading employees from reporting on-the-job injuries through otherwise neutral policies.
The facts will differ from company to company, but take a breath and read the excerpt below from OSHA’s Press Release detailing what OSHA demanded from this large employer:
The major terms of the accord include:
- Changing BNSF’s disciplinary policy so that injuries no longer play a role in determining the length of an employee’s probation following a record suspension for a serious rule violation. As of Aug. 31, 2012, BNSF has reduced the probations of 136 employees who were serving longer probations because they had been injured on-the-job.
- Eliminating a policy that assigned points to employees who sustained on-the-job injuries.
- Revising a program that required increased safety counseling and prescribed operations testing so that work-related injuries will no longer be the basis for enrolling employees in the program. As part of the negotiations leading up to the accord, BNSF removed from the program approximately 400 workers.
- Instituting a higher level review by BNSF’s upper management and legal department for cases in which an employee who reports an on-duty personal injury is also assessed discipline related to the incident giving rise to the injury.
- Implementing a training program for BNSF’s managers and labor relations and human resources professionals to educate them about their responsibilities under the FRSA. The training will be incorporated into BNSF’s annual supervisor certification program.
- Making settlement offers in 36 cases to employees who filed whistleblower complaints with OSHA alleging they were harmed by one or more of the company’s previous policies.