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FRA warns Class Is about intimidating injured workers, UTU says


Federal Railroad Administration recently sent Class Is a letter stating that intimidation and harassment of injured employees could result in individual liability, including civil fines and prosecution by a U.S. attorney, according to a news item posted Sept. 11 on United Transportation Union's Web site.

The letter grew out of recent discussions between UTU International President Byron Boyd Jr., Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Allan Rutter and FRA Safety Chief George Gavalla.

"There can be no excuse for intimidation and harassment of injured employees because a supervisor is more concerned about a safety award than a safe workplace," Boyd said to Rutter and Gavalla, according to UTU.

The union provided FRA evidence of employee harassment, including incidents where a railroad supervisor interfered with an employee's emergency-room treatment.

"The FRA is very concerned about injured employees receiving proper medical treatment," FRA said in its letter. "If the injured person feels restricted in discussing these issues, it can prevent proper treatment besides violating a person's privacy."

The letter listed specific examples of what FRA considers intimidation or harassment by rail supervisors:

• asking a physician to provide/prescribe an injured employee only non-prescription drugs, or prescribe only over-the-counter drugs sold at lower-than-prescription strength, but in doses equating to prescription strength; and

• accompanying an injured employee to an examination room without a voluntary invitation. (Exceptions would be if an employee is unconscious or groggy and the supervisor is providing relevant information to the attending physician, if the supervisor doesn't intend to influence treatment or alter reportability, or if the supervisor is merely assisting the employee in providing information to the physician.)

"Management and labor should be working together to reduce accidents rather than carriers trying to make the numbers look better than they are," said Boyd.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/12/2002