OSHA Fines Railroad for Injured Worker

Metro-North Railroad in New York has been ordered to pay more than $18,000 after the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) determined the railroad forced an injured employee to go back to work. The railroad is part of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which now has 30 days to appeal the ruling.

The worker in question, a laborer at the Harmon Diesel Shop, injured his finger while on the job in June 2009. When it was reported, management initially attempted to dissuade him from seeking medical treatment, but he received sutures at an area hospital.

The worker's physician gave written notice that he should not perform his usual work activities until the sutures were removed. Those activities included lifting heavy objects and immersing his hands in chemicals.

The railroad's occupational health service initially determined that the injury disqualified the worker from duty, but management pressured the health service to change the worker's status to restricted duty. In spite of the medical restrictions and the employee's work status, management ordered him back to work and required him to perform his normal duties.

OSHA ordered Metro-North to pay $10,000 in punitive damages to the worker and more than $8,000 for attorney's fees.

"Metro-North's actions in this case are unacceptable and send a message of intimidation to its workforce," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in a press release. "Railroad employees must be free to report injuries without fear that their employers will harass them, ignore medical instructions or force them to work under conditions that could impair the healing process or cause more harm."

Source: Main Street Connect

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