A recent article published in ProPublica has put the nation’s railroads on the defensive, again. Those familiar with the railroad industry are aware that ProPublica published a series of articles that have been highly critical of the railroads’ attempts to cut corners when it comes to safety. These recent articles have highlighted how railroads intimidate employees and how supervisors hide railroad worker injury data. The most recent article has documented that the nation’s largest railroads, including Union Pacific, BNSF, CSX and Norfolk Southern have failed to report injuries to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Many of the injuries that were not reported were serious in nature, involving lost limbs, crush injuries, back injuries, neck injuries and even death.

FRA regulations require that railroads report injuries so that injury statistics can be compiled and shared with the public. The idea is simple: if railroads have to report injuries, they will have an incentive to provide a safe place to work and, if they fail to do so, the FRA could step up enforcement of existing regulations or draft new regulations to address safety lapses. The most recent ProPublica article included comments by David Michaels, former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), who agreed that proper injury reporting would assist the FRA in eliminating safety hazards for rail workers.

Instead, of doing the right thing and reporting injuries, railroads take advantage of loopholes in the regulations in an effort not to report injuries. The authors noted that “railroad companies go to extreme lengths to portray themselves as safer than they really are, retaliating against workers who report defects and silencing those who get injured. Officials with the FRA have said there is not much they can do about the forces–like the financial implications of appearing to admit liability and a culture that faults managers when employees get hurt on their watch– that can drive companies to quash injury reporting.”

As railroads and their Wall Street investors seek to maximize profits through Precision Scheduled Railroading, it is likely that injuries will continue to be underreported. The attorneys at Doran and Murphy have extensive experience in representing injured railroad workers. Feel free to contact us today at 1-800-374-2144 to learn about your rights as a railroad worker!