Professionals who work on railroads across the country accept quite a bit of risk related to their employment. Whether they perform maintenance at a specific facility or travel with the trains, there are many things that can go wrong and lead to severe or fatal injury for railroad workers.
Derailments are among the most extreme and dramatic incidents that put railway workers and passengers at risk. Mistakes made by engineers or poor maintenance of sections of track can lead to trains going off of the rails and numerous secondary consequences, like fires and chemical spills. Although derailments may seem like a rare issue, they are actually a top safety concern for railroad workers because they occur all the time.
Derailments are a daily safety issue in the United States
People have started to think about railway safety a bit more after a few high-profile derailments in recent months. These were not unusual occurrences as members of the public might think. According to recent statistics about railway incidents, the United States averages approximately three derailments per day.
Most of these incidents are minor and only result in property damage. However, every derailment presents an opportunity for workers to suffer catastrophic injuries or die on the job. When workers end up hurt and in need of time off or they lose their lives, it can be more of a challenge to pursue compensation than it would be for those working in traditional private employment arrangements. Workers or their surviving family members will need to bring a claim under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), which can be a challenge when someone already has to deal with a lengthy medical recovery or the grief of losing a loved one.
Railways should make safety more of a priority
Bringing claims under FELA can lead to appropriate compensation for workers hurt on the job and those that have lost a loved one unnecessarily. Claims can also prompt safety reviews and changes to practices at different facilities that can lead to improved safety for other railroad workers. Understanding both the dangers on the job and the protections of laws like FELA can benefit those who work in the high-risk railway industry.