whistleblowerCoit Services of Ohio has been ordered to pay $161,228 in back wages, compensatory damages and interest, plus attorney's fees, to a technician after an investigation by OSHA found that the Bedford Heights company violated the whistle-blower provisions of the Clean Air Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act.

OSHA determined that the Shaker Heights-based company wrongfully terminated an on-location technician for raising safety concerns about lead abatement during a residential water mitigation project in Shaker Heights.

"Professionals, who work in the restoration and cleaning industry, have a right and a responsibility to express their professional opinion and report safety-related concerns," said Nick Walters, regional administrator for OSHA in Chicago.

The on-location technician, who has a license from the EPA to perform renovation work on homes potentially with lead paint, was terminated in January 2012 for reporting breaches of lead abatement protocol. The breaches occurred when another employee deviated from lead safety practices by using a circular saw improperly to remove a ceiling – an action which could spread lead-based paint dust throughout the home.

OSHA ordered Coit Services of Ohio to reinstate the technician to his former position with all pay, benefits and rights, and pay back wages of $82,000, plus interest, compensatory damages of $60,000 and reasonable attorney's fees of $19,228.

The company must also remove disciplinary information from the employee's personnel record and provide whistle-blower rights information to its employees.

Coit Services of Ohio provides water damage restoration, carpet, tile and air duct cleaning services to residential and commercial customers.