BNSF Railway Co. has reached a voluntary accord with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration covering the railroad's policies for employees who report on-the-job injuries, OSHA announced Jan. 15.
OSHA and BNSF have been at odds over how the company treats workers who report injuries (41 OSHR 743, 8/25/11; 40 OSHR 1059, 12/23/10).
OSHA officials had said company policies discriminate against workers who report injuries, a practice protected by the Federal Railroad Safety Act. BNSF had countered that the company was enforcing its safety policies.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels, who signed the agreement Jan. 13, said, “This accord makes significant progress toward ensuring that BNSF employees who report injuries do not suffer any adverse consequences for doing so.
“It also sets the tone for other railroad employers throughout the U.S. to take steps to ensure that their workers are not harassed, intimidated or terminated, in whole or part, for reporting workplace injuries,” Michaels added.
Mark Schulze, BNSF vice president for safety, training, and operations support, said the railroad is “pleased to have voluntarily worked with OSHA in a cooperative and constructive manner to have clarified issues.”
BNSF policies will continue to “be a valuable tool to hold employees accountable for rules violations that could lead to injuries,” Schulze said.
Schulze noted that in August 2012, BNSF made changes to its employee performance accountability policy, and in October 2012 to its employee review process policy, changes recognized by OSHA as part of the accord.
The provisions of the agreement include:
• making settlement offers in 36 cases to employees who filed whistleblower complaints with OSHA alleging they were harmed by the company's previous policies,
• changing BNSF's disciplinary policy so injuries no longer play a role in determining the length of an employee's probation following a suspension for a serious rule violation (OSHA noted that as of Aug. 31, 2012, BNSF had reduced the probation periods of 136 employees serving longer probations because they had been injured on the job),
• ending a BNSF 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 about 400 workers from the program,
• instituting a review by BNSF's upper management and legal department for cases in which an employee who reports an on-duty injury is also disciplined for the incident, and
• starting a training program for BNSF managers, labor relations experts, and human resources professionals to educate them about their responsibilities under the Federal Railroad Safety Act. The training will be incorporated into BNSF's annual supervisor certification program.
The accord is available at http://www.whistleblowers.gov/acts/bnsf_accord.html.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)