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Whistleblower reports on injury practices at public works

Iowa workers who see wrongdoing or danger at their job might be afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation or mistreatment for doing so. They might even be concerned about losing their jobs. However, it is a person's right to report any violations, whether it is the breaking of federal law, agency misconduct, dangerous actions and much more. To encourage workers to speak out without fear of reprisal, there are laws providing whistleblower protection so they can report wrongful activities and be shielded from repercussions at the workplace. Those who are considering reporting any issue should know about protections accorded to whistleblowers.

A fine of $3,500 was issued to the city of Des Moines because of violations with training and recordkeeping. One violation led to a fine of $2,500 from the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration after a worker who had an industrial truck accident did not receive adequate retraining to avoid another injury. A fine of $1,000 was issued after records regarding work injuries could not be provided in four hours. With some records, they were not available after five days. A worker had served as a whistleblower in late 2017 by complaining that employees at the city's public works did not report injuries due to concern about being reprimanded after being injured.

After the worker complained, an investigation commenced. In addition to the statements the whistleblower made regarding record keeping and reporting injuries, it was said that injured workers received poor treatment from supervisors with the fear that jobs would be lost. The city lets workers face discipline if their injuries stemmed from their own acts of negligence. Workers are shielded from consequences if they complain.

If there are problems in a workplace with its safety or a worker has been subjected to any form of sanction, discrimination or had any other problem in the workplace, it is a reasonable reaction to inform the respective authorities about it so the issues can be rectified. Whistleblowers need not fear of any negative reaction after reporting on problems in the workplace. Iowa workers should do what they need to fully understand all the protections granted to whistleblowers.

Source: desmoinesregister.com, "Whistleblower's complaint on public works injuries lead to $3,500 fine for Des Moines," Lee Rood, March 13, 2018

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