I (Alan Haungs) called OHSA to complain that my Supervisor Erol Bars at CRS (Central Radiopharmaceutical Services) was not allowing me to use lockout tag out when working on the Particle Accelerator. This was after multiple attempts on my part to convince CRS that this is the Policy of SUNY (where the cyclotron was located), and Federal law and most importantly, common sense. I was being stopped by Erol Bars while I was writing up lockout tag out procedures and stopped from installing hardware that would facilitate lockout tag out procedures. I was told by CRS that academic entities are not subject to OSHA, and that lockout tag out was not needed because of safety interlocks. I was directly told by CRS not to pursue, practice or facilitate lockout tag out.
(Note: My efforts to avoid working in concert with the Cyclotron Director’s methodologies, and my efforts to facilitate lockout tag out, incrementally accelerated after each experience and observation of multiple incidents. For example, one such incident started with the Cyclotron Director commanding me to repair a cooling water malfunction while the cyclotron was beaming. I told him I wanted to shut down the cyclotron to perform this, but he insisted I had to do it while it was operating and he insisted it was safe. Upon finishing the task, I discovered that I was quite radioactive as the cooling water which was all over me had become “activated” as a result of the capture of the partial thermalized neutron flux generated by the proton beam striking against the target. The Director assumed the neutron flux would not coincide with the cooling water path, but was wrong as this target, (he explained later to me) must have been incorrectly designed. I was then promptly decontaminated via multiple full-body-showering and surveyed. The consequent investigation and documentation completely hid the fact that the Cyclotron Director ordered me to perform this act while I objected. Consequently, this document could be interpreted as implying that this incident was my fault. Furthermore, the Radiation Safety Committee in reaction to this incident did not recommend or acknowledge that the blanket use of lockout tag out would have prevented this mishap, totally ignoring LOTO, and rather addressed only the matter of how to work safely on the cooling water to prevent radio exposure. It was clear at this point that all levels of CRS safety would not safe guard us through any use of LOTO, and for my own safety I decided to never again neglect lockout tag out, despite the continuous objections, mocking, insults and threats from multiple sources in the department, especially from the Cyclotron Director, who ultimately was the most technically respected opponent of lockout tag out, in the department. In another incident, I even shockingly watched this Cyclotron Director together with the Vice Chairman of Nuclear Medicine, actually attempt to educate and convince an OSHA Inspector that lockout tag out was unnecessary, because they argued, “the cyclotron has safety interlocks and emergency stop switches”!!!)
After my complaint to OHSA, some days later, OHSA called CRS, and the news of this call spread throughout CRS and reached me twice at about noon time through two different sources. OHSA had informed CRS that they were scheduling a visit to do an inspection, and near the end of that very same day that OSHA called CRS, in reaction to OSHA’s phone call that day, late that same day my Supervisor had quickly generated and delivered to me a five page letter (containing my misspelled name and other odd errors due to the rushed nature of its writing) alleging multiple misdeeds on my part. This was the first time in eight years while working at CRS that I had ever received a “warning letter”.
(Note: Both on that day and years later by another person I was directly told that everyone believed that day, that call from OSHA was my fault, and the first day the OSHA Inspector arrived, they entered into the room where I was performing an audit, and when I was told to leave the room, before I left I informed the Cyclotron Director and Vice-Chairman in the presence of the Inspector that I was responsible for this Inspector’s coming, and the Cyclotron Director threateningly said to me, “I’m going to report you”. What he meant was that he would report me to the Chairman, and it was this Chairman who eagerly fired me once I admitted I crossed the line by referring to my Supervisor with an insulting phrase during a conversation with another employee).
As punishment for all of the misdeeds spoken of in that 5 page letter, during my last days at CRS I had been assigned an auditing task and from that point was daily taunted by my Supervisor that I would be fired should the task not be quickly completed, as her five page letter had already indicated that I was already on my last leg, and one more misdeed would be my undoing.
(Note: A month prior to this same time I suffered an extremely painful injury at work, while rushing to fix a flooding problem at CRS due to a power outage, which outage was due to the famous “2006 October Surprise”. I later discovered, months after being fired, as therapy was failing that I had severely damaged a tendon in my foot. Due to the degree of damage done to this tendon, this tendon required surgical removal and was replaced with another tendon from another part of the same foot. Also, a piece of bone from my knee was added to my foot to help shape the foot. My point being is that I was always in exhaustive pain after this injury when working at CRS, and consequently my emotional tolerances were compromised).
Despite taking my punishment by performing this audit, while supposedly also being relieved of and deprived of my typical duties, people were still streaming into my office, regularly seeking advice and instruction, who were involved with my many usual duties and projects set in motion weeks, months and years earlier, many things my new Supervisor had no knowledge of. Most of these items I was involved with long predated her becoming my new co-Supervisor. For neither was she ever interested in understanding the scope and depth of items I was in charge of, once she had become my new co-Supervisor, for she was made my co-Supervisor, by the Vice-Chairman, merely to frustrate my attempts to bring lockout tag out into the department, for she added nothing to my productivity all the time she was my co-Supervisor. She even slowed to a stop the progress of the October Surprise flood repair, as I was scheduled to talk with a company that would pump out the water, but the day before this scheduled talk she removed me from the project, causing weeks later Maintenance from SUNY to eventually come into my office to seek advice as how to proceed, so then I through others, weeks later, had the flood pumped out. This visit from SUNY Maintenance was after her brother and the Cyclotron Director studied the problem and couldn’t come up with an idea of how to pump out the water.
This lack of help and even interference from her was primarily because LOTO was against the will of the Cyclotron Director, and he needed another pair of hands to get a hold of me and stop me, even if it meant cheating a bit. I can say this confidently because more than on one occasion, the Vice-Chairman directly told me not to pursue lockout tag out, and each time I directly told him I would continue to pursue lockout tag out. And as I moved boldly forward, in pursuit of LOTO, I eventually inherited an additional Supervisor. I was equally under two different Department Directors, and uniquely the only person at CRS answering equally to two different Department Directors.
(Note: My expression of my objection to her with regards to her interference stopping me from getting the flood(s) pumped out, by simply gasping and hanging up my cell phone on her when she called me, and her aggravation at me for a day or so earlier when I got both SUNY Radiation Safety and SUNY Safety involved with stopping her from dumping chemicals down sinks, because she wouldn’t stop when I told her about a problem; caused her to discipline me. The problem was that chemical waste was feeding into a flooded and electrically damaged underground sump facility, which failure was causing chemical and radio waste to illegally route into the storm sewer. Her anger at me caused her to give me a day off without pay, and thus later when the five page letter was written, it was her “final warning” to me. While in her office, she accused me of laughing at her and hanging up, although in fact I merely gasped from disgust and hung up after she told me she wanted me to stop working on the flood, for she said she would assigned her newly hired brother to do it. I was given a day off without pay for the imagined offense of laughing. This flooding and associated electrical damage was due to the 2006 October Surprise freak snow storm.)
During this time of punishment, I repeatedly emailed requesting time off from work, because I wanted relief from her taunting, (although I did not cite a reason for requesting time off). But, this same Supervisor refused to allow me to take any time off, citing the audit must be finished first while continually threatening to fire me, on a daily basis, if the audit was not finished quickly enough. Therefore, as a result of the no relief in sight of the repeated taunting, repeated threatening, repeated interruptions advising and instructing and helping others while I’m supposed to be doing the audit solely, the unrelenting devastating and truly exhausting foot pain, and the fact that the lockout tag out they were preventing would not only benefit myself, but everyone including even this very same Supervisor’s brother, who was also employed by CRS and who helped work on the Cyclotron but with no technical education, and who was also dangerously and ignorantly opposed to the use of lockout tag out; and so with all this on my mind, one morning I became so emotionally overwhelmed that I just blew up and referred to this Supervisor as a stupid “b”, during a conversation with another employee who had just come into my office accompanied by a new hire, as they were looking for me to perform an orientation for this new employee, who was just hired by this very same Supervisor.
My forcefulness and language was overheard and reported, and when asked, I readily admitted I used those words and was fired by the Chairman.
(Note: My last conversation with this Chairman was his firing of me. This chairman was a relatively new hire, and a few years earlier, after taking charge of CRS, his first conversation with me was to ask me to destroy his sleep apnea machine so that his health insurance would issue him a newer better one. I refused to damage the machine for him and I told the coworker who had recommended the chairman to talk to me about destroying his machine to not refer me for this kind of job again. The chairman scolded me for approaching that coworker.)
In a strained state I attended my Unemployment Hearing, dogged by very sever foot pain, and the looming anxieties of fulltime school work, alone with no witnesses, (for a SUNY lawyer prevented all the SUNY employed witnesses of my safety efforts from attending, particularly most disturbing to me, the absence of the SUNY Safety person who was helping me write the lockout tag out procedures for CRS. I informed the Judge of this lawyer’s actions, which prevented my witnesses from attending the hearing). Also, on this day, even my wife could not attend the hearing being out of state with her sick and aged mom. So with no moral support, no witnesses, and no written proof by OSHA of my safety effort, and presenting my case as a physically pained and emotionally drained and very pressured and irritated person, the judge did not believe my story, even as she indicated to me at the hearing that she saw no reasonable cause, as I had stated, why I called my boss that name, implying I was making up the safety story.
But sometime after this hearing date, OSHA finished their written report on CRS, and sent a copy to me, and I sent this OHSA report to the Court as proof that I had complained to OSHA, but the Court refused to accept this evidence. As a result, the judgment against me still stands, in that, the Court still believes that I wasn’t fired for retaliation for my safety efforts and whistle blowing, but for my insubordination, therefore I am NOT qualified to collect Unemployment benefits.
After being fired, I immediately went back to school and in four years completed a Bachelors and then a Masters in Science in Electrical Engineering, having also joined two Honor Societies, and had my name published in various works as a Research Assistant as a student, and ultimately published my own Master’s Thesis . I am presently working on an invention.
I am the second employee that I am aware of, who was Supervised by this same person at CRS, and then fired by her very shortly after having made a safety complaint about CRS. Her contribution to CRS was to fire whistle blowers. We both were fired exactly a year apart, coincidently both fired a week before Thanksgiving vacation time, and both suffered long term financial harm by the after effects of the termination, and either he nor myself were given help for promoting safety at SUNY by SUNY, once CRS turned against us.
But, within a few short years after our terminations, another CRS employee successfully whistle blew about multiple issues at CRS. One of her exact complaints in particular, concerning the Chemical Hygiene practices of two CRS Researcher in particular, I had already specifically informed SUNY Safety about years prior and they did nothing about it. But her complaints resulted in the enforced termination by SUNY against these two CRS Researchers, one being a particular Department Director at CRS who was also the Chemical Hygiene Officer at CRS.
Unfortunately SUNY did not act earlier on my words or the words of the initial CRS employee who was fired a year before me, who had also informed SUNY Radiation Safety about these exact same two CRS Researchers, who were breaking FDA law then. But years earlier, the VA Hospital did act on my warnings concerning these same two Researchers which intended to sell VA owned Hospital hardware that the VA was keeping in storage in our facility. I discovered this plan as I was attempting to clear our over-storage problem by returning items to the VA. The VA responded by performing an audit of all of their equipment in our facility. But, when the CRS Vice-Chairman was informed by me of this intent to steal, he took no action against these two Researchers.
Ultimately, the Supervisor/Director who disciplined and managed to prod me into an angry act, had also lost her employment with CRS, after all of her subordinates under her supervision quit, also during which time the CRS customer base she was responsible to grow and service, changed from being CRS customers, into customers of competing suppliers besides CRS, basically placing her CRS department on its financial knees, and destroying the department she was Director of.
This Supervisor had also managed to bring a reliable eight year employee, married 23 years with two children in college, with no record of discipline, within one short month’s time, to time off without pay, then a five page final warning notice, and finally to termination, and without an ability to collect unemployment.
The Chairman, (Dr. Hani Abdel Nabi, MD) who fired me was a relatively new hire and had no idea of the scope and depth of my unique responsibilities, hence I was told that systems and projects I was involved with have fallen into disrepair since my termination, and this Chairman’s serial misdealing’s with multiple affairs at CRS and SUNY have also caused his voluntary removal from CRS.
And the Vice-Chairman retired shortly after SUNY started looking closer and enforced some terminations at CRS.
These management upsets all occurred within the time frame after I was fired, started college and before I finished my Master’s degree.
After finishing my Master’s degree, the entire Cyclotron faculty was laid off and the cyclotron was finally removed from the facility.