Injured workers deserve medical care, not disciplinary action, in Houston or any workplace. A city worker says employees fearing management reprisals don’t report injuries.
When a worker is injured on the job, human decency says they should receive prompt medical attention. And unsafe conditions should be corrected. One would expect that standard in private industry and even more so with government operations. Yet in Des Moines, Iowa, a whistleblower says that public works employees fear reporting work injuries for fear of retaliation from management.
A black mark on employee’s record
The Des Moines Register reports that the anonymous public works employee alleged in an informal complaint to the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, that employees who report a workplace injury risk being written up with a corrective letter placed in their file. One worker with a shoulder injury was written up because management claimed it was preventable.
An accident in which a forklift tipped over was deemed “unpreventable”. The whistleblower alleges that the accident review committee produces biased conclusions.
“This practice is preventing employees from coming forward with injuries or illnesses,” the informal OSHA complaint read. “Employees believe they are being discriminated against when they report injury or illnesses to the employer.”
City policy says that employees can be disciplined for injuries that are caused by their own negligence or for failing to report an injury in a timely manner.
Iowa OSHA has instructed the anonymous employee that he can pursue a formal complaint and still remain anonymous or seek union support. Des Moines is a self-insured city and payouts to injured employees can be very costly.
What lower accident figures conceal
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show that nationally, workplace accidents are down since 2004. Yet in 2008 a study by Congress indicated that the number of accident figures hasn’t really declined, merely the reporting of them has, distorting the picture.
Another Register story cites an Iowa Department of Transportation report showing that road construction injuries and deaths are up, yet the city of Des Moines shows declining accident figures among employees. Are the city’s figures a fair representation of injuries, or are workers simply not reporting them for fear of reprisal?
Deadly gas kills public works employees
Workplace danger for government employees may seem remote, but as this tragic accident shows, injuries and death do happen.
Workers shouldn’t fear for both physical and job safety
If the whistleblower’s complaints about management retaliation is true, it is doubly troubling. No employee at any workplace should face discipline for reporting an accident, and government agencies are especially entrusted with protecting rights. Don’t be afraid. Fight back.
If you or a loved one have been in a workplace accident, The Callahan Law Firm has the experience, skill and resources to successfully represent those injured because of the negligence or gross negligence of companies. We work on a contingency basis, meaning our firm is paid only if you make a recovery whether by settlement or verdict.