Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Pennsylvania railroad workers fired for reporting safety concerns

A large number of workplace fatalities that have occurred across the nation involve railroad employees. Despite such grim statistics, railroads have often been reluctant to implement safety precautions that might make working on a railroad safer.

Recently, one of the nation's largest railroads was ordered by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to pay more than $800 thousand in damages after the employer fired a number of its injured employees. The firings took place in Pennsylvania and a couple of other states, and it was alleged that the workers fired had reported a number of safety concerns regarding the railroad to government officials.

Federal whistleblower statutes are in place to prevent employers from retaliating against workers for reporting dangerous conditions at the workplace. Obviously, there will be less incentive to report such violations if the employee fears that he or she may lose their job. However, without such reporting, there will likely be little done to also improve worker safety.

When workers are injured or killed, the injured person or family members may wish to contact an attorney experienced in trying cases involving worker injury and workplace safety. Such attorneys understand the federal and state statutes, industry standards and other applicable regulations.

However much we would like to think otherwise, employers generally cannot be trusted to police themselves. Employers are often concerned that improving safety at the workplace can cost money. Whether there perception is actually true, it is always disturbing when businesses attempt to cut costs by eliminating worker safety.

Source: Lex18.com, "Norfolk Southern Ordered To Pay More Than $800K After Firing Injured Workers in Kentucky, South Carolina and Pennsylvania," June 18, 2012

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