OSHA ordered Air Methods Corp. to reinstate a pilot fired in 2013 for refusing to fly an unsafe medical helicopter.
The Lucasville, Ohio-based pilot was terminated Aug. 5, 2013, days after refusing to fly a medical helicopter with a faulty emergency locator transmitter over mountainous terrain.
“Pilots should never have to choose between the safety of themselves and their passengers, and their job,” said Nick Walters, OSHA’s regional administrator in Chicago. “Whistleblower protections are critical to keeping workplaces safe. Disciplining an employee for following safety procedures is illegal and puts everyone at risk.”
Following an investigation, OSHA required Air Methods, a U.S.-based provider of air medical transportation services, to reinstate the pilot, pay $158,000 in back wages and $8,500 in damages, remove disciplinary information from the employee’s personnel record, and provide whistleblower rights information to all employees.
OSHA determined that Air Methods violated the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21), which protects employees who report air safety information.
Air Methods Corp.’s medical division transported about 102,000 patients in 2013. The Englewood, Colo.-based company operates more than 300 bases in 42 states.