New Memorandum Means More Coordination Between FMCSA and OSH
A new memorandum of understanding was signed between the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The new agreement will create better communication between the agencies when any employee or worker claims they have been discriminated against or coerced to work in unsafe conditions.
This new MOU will send all employees who have complaints from the FMCSA to OSHA. OSHA will then cooperate with FMCSA by sending all documents of the case and the findings back to the administration. Additionally, FMCSA will also send OSHA information from their database. All findings will be reported to each agency annually.
The reason for the dramatic policy change is to due to a March 2014 Governmental Accountability Office Report that found OSHA and the Department of Transportation lacking on collaboration in regards to whistleblowers. OSHA and FMCSA’s authority over worker complaints makes them responsible for helping whistleblowers in the industry.
In fact, according to the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA), OSHA is responsible for protecting everyone from independent contractors to freight handlers, from discrimination. Many cases involve hazardous material handling and the dangers that workers face. Reporting or filing a claim regarding federal safety investigations where companies failed to follow federal standards is precarious for workers, and OSHA is responsible for protecting said individuals.
Hazardous material violations are extremely serious, and could even result in the death of a worker in certain circumstances. Therefore, whistleblowers are critical to making the industry safer across the board. Businesses can end up paying up to $1 million in damages and attorney fees to workers who are suppressed. In fact, the transportation act, or MAP-21, gave FMCSA authorization to take action up to revoking operation authority of a business if they are found to coerce CMV drivers to violate hazardous material regulations.
According to Assistant Secretary of the Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels, the agreement will send a clear message to those who attempt to silence their workers for doing the right thing.