A John Deere & Co. pipefitter who was fired after reporting several safety violations to OSHA would be reinstated with back pay, under the terms of a lawsuit filed by the agency.

On three separate occasions, the worker filed complaints about the company’s Moline, Illinois facility with OSHA, each time resulting in violations against the company.

Falls, LOTO and first aid

In April 2010, John Deere was issued a serious violation for exposing workers to fall hazards. In January 2012, the worker filed a complaint with OSHA for lockout/tagout violations, which exposed workers to amputation and crushing injuries when operating dangerous machinery. These hazards had been reported to the company's safety and maintenance department, but they were not resolved. Because of the complaint inspection, OSHA cited the company for five serious safety violations. On May 20, 2012, the pipefitter filed a complaint alleging that the facility lacked necessary first aid facilities. OSHA conducted an inspection on May 25, 2012, which resulted in one serious citation for the violation.

The pipefitter was dismissed on June 4, 2012.

Commended, not disciplined

OSHA’s lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges John Deere violated the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

"It is clear from OSHA's investigation that John Deere dismissed this employee for reporting conditions that exposed everyone at the facility to serious injuries," said William Donovan, acting regional administrator for OSHA in Chicago. "Commitment to workplace safety should be commended — not disciplined. The department will do everything in its power to prevent this type of unlawful retaliation against workers who report unsafe working conditions."

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, motor vehicle safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws.