The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) are increasing their collaboration to protect the safety and health of railroad workers in light of the February Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, and others. 
The railroad industry has a duty to actively protect the safety of its employees to not only adhere to all safety rules and regulations, but also empower employees and respect their right to report safety issues without fear of retaliation. Rail employees and their unions must be a part of the conversation. 
To that end, rail operators must comply with regulatory requirements and should follow best practices including: 
– Participating in the FRA’s Confidential Close Call Reporting System.
– Restoring and reinvigorating labor-management occupational health and safety committees with full union participation and anti-retaliation projections. 
– Providing the proper tools and controls (like needed personal protective equipment) for workers and encouraging them to use these resources to be successful and safe. 
– Ensuring that managers and workers understand the retaliation against employees for reporting hazards and unsafe conditions is illegal, and that workers know they may pursue a whistleblower complaint with OSHA or DOT if they experience retaliation for protected activities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act or the Federal Railroad Safety Act.
The agencies are available to help rail employers comply with all federal rules and regulations, work toward our shared goal to prevent injuries, and ensure the health and safety of workers and the public.