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New Orleans Louisiana FELA And Railroad Injury Legal Blog

Occupational safety: What are your employer's obligations?

If you earn a living on a Louisiana railroad, you may work as a conductor, engineer, line person, baggage handler, cook, ticket agent or other occupation. While some jobs are inherently more dangerous than others are, all railroad work can sometimes place you at risk for injury. New headlines often focus on derailments and other serious accidents where passengers or workers lose their lives or suffer burns, head trauma, back injuries or other adverse conditions.

However, behind-the-scenes work on the railroad can also be quite dangerous. Your occupational safety relies on several factors, including but not limited to your employer's obligation to ensure a safe work atmosphere. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration oversees railroad safety. You should know several things regarding OSHA and workplace safety, including where to seek support if you suffer injury on the job.

Did a day on the railroad lead to a night in the hospital?

You may be one of many Louisiana railroad workers who have loved trains your entire life. Going to work every day felt at first like going to a grandiose station where you could indulge in your heart's passion, that is, until the mundane duties of everyday job life settled in; then, it became just another day at work. Still, you were glad you because you were earning a decent living doing something you enjoyed.  

Train work is arguably one of the most dangerous types of employment in the nation. You must be especially proactive if you hope to avoid injury. The more you learn about safety, the better. Your employer is obligated to provide proper training and safety equipment to help keep you safe on the job. If your employer is negligent, you will want to make sure you fully understand the FELA process. It also helps to memorize common safety tips and make them good habits.  

Did lack of training lead to your railroad injury?

Working on a Louisiana railroad can be adventurous, challenging, rewarding and downright dangerous, all at the same time. As in other industries, your railroad employers have an obligation to make sure you have proper training before placing you on duty in any rail system capacity. They must also provide all available equipment to help keep you and your co-workers as safe as possible.  

It's no secret that lack of training and employer negligence often lead to worker injuries. If you're involved in a railroad accident, you may have to take a lot of time off work in recovery. Hopefully, your injuries have not caused permanent disability. If they have, you may need special assistance, such as at-home nursing care or other types of aid. When employer negligence is a factor, you may seek financial recovery under the Federal Employers Liability Act.  

Were regulations violated when you sustained a railroad injury?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration may have stepped in to investigate soon after the railroad accident that caused your injuries occurred. This is because OSHA safety regulations apply to railroad work as well as other types of industries. OSHA exists within the Department of Labor, and its main purpose is to help reduce workplace hazards and create health and safety programs. The agency may cite your Louisiana employer for violating federal regulations if investigators determine something was not up to par when your accident happened.  

OSHA was formed out of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. As a railroad employee, you have certain rights under OSHA. Other federal regulations may also apply in your situation, such as the Boiler Inspection Act. You'll likely have to take one day at a time as you recuperate from your injuries. Hopefully, you have a strong support team who are fully equipped and ready to assist you. It's also good to clarify your rights as you plan your course of action to seek the fullest recovery possible.       

What does FELA have to do with me?

No matter how short a time you have worked in the railroad industry, you are already aware of the differences between this job and any other job you have held. For one thing, you can't beat the pay, but you may already know how difficult railroad work is on your personal life.

Another big difference between working for the railroad and just about any other job is the constant danger. Railroad injuries are often catastrophic. If you have ever witnessed an accident on the job, you know that if it is not life-ending, it is often career-ending. This is why railroads have a very different system for dealing with workplace injuries.

Things to know about railroad safety and FELA

Do you work on a Louisiana railroad? Whether your job is on a commuter train, a passenger locomotive or a freight train, you're undoubtedly aware of the risk for personal injury involved in your line of work. Hopefully, your employer has provided necessary training and all available equipment and resources to help keep you and your co-workers as safe as possible.

Recent years have brought significant advances in modern technology that shows great promise for its ability to help prevent railroad accidents. There will never be a way to completely eliminate the risk, however. That's why it's wise for anyone in your line of work (as well as those who travel on trains as passengers) to research ways to help prevent injury. It's especially prudent as a railroad employee to familiarize yourself with the Federal Employers Liability Act if you haven't already done so. It is key to seeking recovery for your losses if you suffer injury on the job.

What happens when I make a FELA claim?

When you accepted the job as a rail worker, you probably learned that any injuries you suffer during the course of your duties are not covered by workers' compensation as they are in most other industries. The federal government understood the inherent dangers of your job, so Congress passed the Federal Employers Liability Act to ensure your employer always takes the utmost care in protecting your safety.

FELA claims differ from workers' compensation in that you address them directly to your employer or through a civil lawsuit if you can show that negligence on their part caused your injuries. The point is to hold railroad companies to the highest standard of safety by making them liable for workers who suffer injuries due to preventable hazardous conditions. If you suffer injuries as a rail worker, there are steps you must follow to file a claim through FELA.

Injured on the railroad? Know your FELA facts

In the late 1800s, the average railroad worker could expect to survive the job a mere seven years. If you have researched U.S. railroad history, you may know that a major public outcry regarding unsafe working conditions prompted the enactment of certain laws meant to protect railroad workers by allowing them to pursue litigation against negligent employers. As you may also know, if you're familiar with the workers' compensation program, most employees in non-railroad jobs are prohibited from filing personal injury claims against their employers.  

Railroad workers at risk from employers and the general public

Many people in Louisiana and beyond earn their livings at Amtrak or other railway systems in the nation. Whether you're a conductor, engineer or line worker, you no doubt understand the tremendous safety risks involved on the job. Railroad work consistently ranks high on lists citing the most dangerous jobs in America. Sometimes, such risks come from motorists and other members of the public. Just as traffic safety analysts consider intersections extremely dangerous areas on the road, in the train world, officials can say the same about railroad crossings.

Hopefully, your employer has provided proper training and all available equipment to keep you as safe as possible on the job. It's always a good idea to be especially alert at a railroad crossing, however. If your job involves physically standing on the tracks in such areas (perhaps for maintenance reasons) you are greatly at risk for injury. Knowing the dangers ahead of time and where to seek help if an accident occurs are high priorities for all railroad workers.

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