OSHA has ordered a commuter railroad company to pay $18,830 after violating physician orders and requiring an injured employee work while still under medical care. Metro-North Commuter Railroad Company was found to have retaliated against one of its employees in their Croton-on-Hudson, NY Harmon Diesel Shop who filed a workers compensation claim after a finger injury in 2009.
The injured worker was a laborer and reported his finger injury to management in June 2009. At the time, management personnel tried to talk the employee out of seeking medical help but ultimately treatment was sought at a nearby hospital and the worker received stitches. He was also given orders by the medical staff to not use his hand until the sutures had time to heal. His hand was also to be kept clean and dry.
The occupational health service at the railroad company made the determination that the injury prevented the worker from his duty but it was found the facilities director of the diesel shop convinced the health service to change the status of the injured worker to ‘restricted duty’ instead despite the worker’s physician providing written notice for being excused from work.
The injured man was then forced to return to work and complete job tasks specifically forbidden by the doctor including working with chemicals and lifting heavy objects. As a result, OSHA has required the railroad company to pay $10,000 in punitive damages for the workers plus another $8,830 in legal fees. They were also required to expunge any negative information that went into the employee’s files.