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OSHA orders UP to reassign welder, pay damages


The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently ordered Union Pacific Railroad to reassign a welder in Beverly, Iowa, to his former position, reimburse him for travel expenses and pay compensatory damages.

The worker alleged that UP “retaliated against him” for requesting a lookout while performing work on adjacent tracks and asking for tools to make field welding safer, according to OSHA.

An OSHA investigation conducted under the whistleblower provisions of the Federal Rail Safety Act determined that a track maintenance manager “illegally abolished” the welder position in Beverly. The worker then was forced to accept a welding position in Marshalltown, Iowa, which increased his daily commute by 131 miles and kept him away from his family for extended periods, OSHA officials said in a prepared statement.

"A supervisor does not have the right to abolish a job position because he becomes annoyed by a worker voicing safety concerns," said Charles Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo.

UP officials believe there was a legitimate non-discriminatory business reason for this action and disagree with OSHA’s findings. They plan to appeal the case.

“Union Pacific promotes and enforces very comprehensive employee health and safety requirements, and does not tolerate retaliatory conduct by any employee,” UP officials said in a statement.