whistleblowerA worker at a Maine stone-crushing plant who was fired for making safety complaints will receive $6,000 in back wages, under a settlement reached between his former employer and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.

An investigation by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) found that the laborer had engaged in a protected activity when he alerted the company about unresolved safety problems. One example: the worker refused to turn on the plant’s generator until required safety guards had been installed and calling MSHA to report the company’s failure to install those safety guards.

Ferraiolo Construction Inc. and owner-president John Ferraiolo, operators of the Portable Pioneer Plant in Thomaston, Maine, were ordered to pay the worker back wages.

Portable Pioneer Plant is a stone crushing operation that produces gravel for use by the public and cement mills and operates under MSHA jurisdiction. Section 105(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, states that miners, their representatives and applicants for employment are protected from retaliation for engaging in safety or health-related activities, such as: identifying hazards, asking for MSHA inspections or refusing to engage in unsafe acts.

 “A Guide to Miners’ Rights and Responsibilities Under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977” is available on MSHA’s website at www.msha.gov/S&HINFO/minersrights/minersrights.asp.