Computer Sciences Corp. has been ordered to pay back wages to two former Hanford employees that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found were laid off in violation of whistleblower laws.
The agency ordered the corporation to pay $186,000. It also must post a notice for its work force that reinforces that retaliation against employees for raising nuclear safety concerns is illegal.
Computer Sciences Corp. disagrees with the finding and is evaluating its option to appeal, a spokesman said Thursday.
In August 2012, two employees reported a defective electronic medical record system that was not accurately tracking medical restrictions, according to OSHA.
That created the potential for workers to be exposed to beryllium despite medical restrictions that should have protected them, according to OSHA. Beryllium can cause an incurable lung disease in people who breathe in fine particles of the metal if they have a genetic sensitivity to it.
If a blood test indicates that a Hanford worker is sensitized to beryllium, they are restricted from working in certain areas to prevent further exposure that could increase their risk of developing chronic beryllium disease.
After an inspection by the Department of Energy into the concerns of the two employees, they were laid off, OSHA said. OSHA did not name the two former employees, but said they were information technology specialists working on the software.
“Those working around or for a nuclear facility must raise safety concerns freely without fear of retaliation from their bosses,” said Ken Atha, acting OSHA regional administrator, in a statement.
Computer Sciences Corp. owned AdvanceMed Hanford, the former occupational medicine services provider at Hanford. Its contract expired at the end of September 2012, which was after employees raised the concern.
HPM Corp. has since been awarded the contract, but it retained Computer Sciences Corp. as a subcontractor.
OSHA also found in favor of another Hanford whistleblower, Shelly Doss, in August and issued a preliminary order to require Washington River Protection Solutions to pay her more than $220,000 and reinstate her to her former position as an environmental specialist.
The Hanford tank farm contractor filed an objection with OSHA, which halted the order.