CSX Transportation (CSX) is a major Class I railroad that operates in 23 different states throughout the east coast and central United States.  In a prior blog, there was a discussion about OSHA citation #3025550645 issued to CSX in 1999 for asbestos hazards at one of CSX’s major repair shops in Selkirk, New York. This current blog addresses a separate, subsequent OSHA citation #1033969 issued to CSX in 2015 at the same repair shop in Selkirk, New York.  The 2015 OSHA inspection stemmed from the railroad’s use of asbestos woven insulation tape on certain pipes and lines on diesel locomotives. Specifically, the OSHA file includes reference to certain railroad employee complaints which led to the investigation by OSHA investigators:

  • “On and before 2/16/15, at shop, for employees performing maintenance and inspecting locomotive with damaged Asbestos Containing Material (ACM).  The employer did not keep surfaces inside locomotive engine compartments free from ACM debris and dust.”
  • “On and before 2/16/15, at shop, for employees performing maintenance and inspecting locomotive with damaged Asbestos Containing Material (ACM).  The employer did not inform employees of ACM in each locomotive prior to employees conducting work in locomotives.”
  • “Bullock, director of industrial hygiene [at CSX], stated to employees that they could breathe a garbage bag full of asbestos and not be over the PEL during an asbestos training.”
  • “Employees are being forced to be exposed to friable asbestos lined pipes while working on locomotives. Employees say CSX is ignoring their own policy by forcing workers, to be exposed.”

In February 2015, an inspection was done by OSHA inspectors in response to these railroad worker complaints.  The OSHA file indicates that inspectors “observed suspected asbestos lines in disrepair in engines that were being repaired during our inspection” and found a lack of effective communication and training by CSX for employees about asbestos.  OSHA issued various citations to CSX which they initially contested.  After a series of negotiations between OSHA and CSX, the original penalty of $42,000 was reduced to $7,000.  Importantly, CSX admitted that it “did not use effective means of communication to inform the employees of asbestos in that employees interviewed stated that the did not fully understand the presence and location of ACM [asbestos containing materials] in each locomotive prior to conducting any work in the locomotive.”

Similarly, under the same agreement, CSX also agreed that it “did not use effective means of communication to train the employees on asbestos in that employees interviewed stated that they did not fully understand the contents of the employer’s asbestos training program.”

This agreement with OSHA wherein CSX accepted responsibility for these charges was signed by the railroad’s very own director of industrial hygiene, Dr. William H. Bullock, CIH, CSP.

While this citation involves CSX’s Selkirk Shop, our law firm has been involved in cases all over the country with different major railroads where asbestos was used on diesel locomotives and in railroad repair shops.  The railroads use of asbestos created significant cancer hazards for railroad workers. The fact that such asbestos hazards existed until only very recently is shocking given the well-documented risks posed by asbestos exposure.  OSHA has been very concerned about worker exposure to asbestos given that there is no safe level of exposure and very low levels of exposure have been linked to certain types of cancer.  Similarly, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), concluded as far back as 1980 that “Excessive cancer risks, however, have been demonstrated at all fiber concentrations studied to date.  Evaluation of all available human data provides no evidence for a threshold or for a ‘safe’ level of asbestos exposure.”

Many studies have found that asbestos is capable of causing various types of cancer, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, throat cancer, laryngeal cancer, esophageal cancer, colon cancer, stomach cancer, kidney cancer, as well as other types of cancer.  OSHA regulations have been in place to protect railroad workers since the early 1970’s and yet certain railroads have allowed asbestos to continue to be used on locomotives as these recent OSHA violations have shown.  Documents obtained by my office as far back as the 1930’s have shown an awareness of the railroads of the dangers of asbestos and steps that railroads could take to limit the risk to employees (see prior blog about AAR documents here).  Similarly, these same AAR documents reference an awareness by railroads as early as 1958 that asbestos was capable of causing cancer.

If you were a railroad worker and have been diagnosed with cancer- or a family member of a railroad worker who has passed away from cancer- you may be entitled to compensation and should contact our law firm.