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Ohio Bell's overhauls policies after intimidating injured workers

In a previous post, you read about Ohio Bell potentially being the center of a lawsuit related to punishing workers who reported accidents at work. Now, those workplace accidents are going to be the center of more than just lawsuits for the company. According to an updated news release, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, along with the Mine Safety and Health Administration, are looking into how they can create new rules that will both protect whistleblowers and prevent the companies from stopping them with intimidation.

The Feb. 27 report claims that there have been a number of injuries that have been reported at Ohio Bell, and a shocking number of those incidents led to workers being suspended or cited. In a case from January 2012, a man slipped on black ice and was suspended for a day without pay. In December 2011, a man fell and crashed into a metal conduit box. He injured a rib and had to be off work for six weeks. Three months later, after an investigation, it was discovered that there was no safety rule or ladder policy cited when the man was also suspended for a day without pay.

In another instance, one man was injured when he was bitten by a dog while working. He didn't even miss any work, but he did have to receive a rabies shot. What did he get? A one-day suspension. These shocking intimidation tactics are obvious throughout the company's records. There were allegedly 13 people who suffered suspensions of one day or longer without pay for simply being injured on the job and reporting their injuries.

What has changed now, though, is that while there will be lawsuits, the OSHA and the MSHA want to do more to prevent these intimidation tactics from ever taking place. Retaliation, for example, would potentially be stopped part of a new regulation that would make sure companies couldn't discipline workers for reporting one-the-job injuries that were due to the "little things."

Source: People's World, "OSHA goes after Ohio Bell for punishing injured workers" Mark Gruenberg, Feb. 27, 2014

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