In my last blog about the everyday dangers railroad workers face on the job, I shared nine photos of on-the-job hazards that led to injuries for my clients. Unfortunately for employees, it wasn't hard to dig up a bunch more.
Each of these photos represents a failure by the railroad to ensure a safe work environment for its workers. That's eight instances where a carrier negligence violated FELA, the law that protects rail workers.
See if you can spot the safety hazards in each of these pictures. I bet you encountered some of them on your last shift.
Crossing live rails while avoiding a mess
The track engineer testified at trial, “I don’t see anything objectionable in this picture.” The MAS here is 60+. It's an interlocking with 8+ tracks.Crossing live rail with slag concrete and left over debris is asking for injury.
No ballast. No lights. No safe walkway.
Ballast completely missing, ties not cut down, ties needing replacement. All in a freight yard without lighting where workers walk - at night and in inclement weather.
Freight hog running long nose forward
No conductor on the lead end. This is the engineer’s vantage point. What you can’t see from here is the derail or the track my client was on when the engineer didn’t blow the horn and ran over my client.
Ties uneven. Ballast loose and uneven. Garbage everywhere.
Debris throughout the yard creating slipping hazards. Now add snow and ice and make it the middle of the night with trains on the tracks creating shadows for the little light offered.
Lack of proper lighting
One light tower for the whole section of yard.
Unsecured concrete tie
Supervisor ordered the ditch dug. The same supervisor was standing on top of the concrete tie, which had not been clipped to the rail, when it fell on my client’s leg while he was digging.
No escape for tunnel workers
These cut outs were installed in the tunnel to allow for escape, as was the 15 inch bench wall. So who was the bright person who put pipes in the way of employees needing to make use of the escape area?
Ballast? We don’t need no stinking ballast.
Five inches of water below the tie, no ballast for the 6 inches of tie. How many knees and ankles will this one claim, in the underground tunnel with insufficient clearance to walk outside the gauge?
As you can see, a company’s negligence comes in many forms and sizes. Don’t be fooled, these are not conditions that get quickly remedied. Every one of the photos above show conditions which injured a worker and yet exist still today. Even when you bring the problems to the attention of the railroad (in case they somehow missed them) the railroad mostly turns a blind eye, like they did to my client before he suffered a career-ending hand injury.
The good news is that the law upholds your right to a safe workplace. Download this case study to see how we used FELA to win a $3 million verdict for my client's hand injury that could have been avoided. He was an assistant signalman, but the law applies to any railroad worker, no matter the trade.