Railroads are required by law to provide rail workers with a safe place to work. Anytime a railroad worker is injured due to an unsafe workplace, the railroad has to pay compensation to the injured rail worker under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). There are many different ways to prove that the railroad failed to provide a safe place to work under the FELA. Railroads can be liable in cases where locomotives, rail cars, or equipment are not properly maintained, where the railroad fails to properly train workers, where oil or grease create a slipping hazard and in countless other ways. One very important way that a railroad can be negligent is when it violates any of the safety regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). A recent law firm blog discussing the applicability of OSHA regulations and how they apply to railroad operations can be accessed by clicking here.
The major railroads throughout the United States have been cited by OSHA going all the way back to the 1970s when OSHA first came into existence. These OSHA citations were issued for various safety infractions in railroad yards and shops all over the United States. Finding evidence of old OSHA violations can be very helpful to an injured railroad worker because it shows a pattern of unsafe and reckless behavior. By way of example, Doran & Murphy has uncovered an OSHA “Amended Notice of Violation” which was issued to Union Pacific Railroad (UP) in Cheyenne, Wyoming in April 1978. OSHA issued the violation notice to the UP for failing to provide medical examinations to railroad employees to ensure that they were not exposed to unsafe levels of asbestos. Similarly, the OSHA violation notice also charged that Union Pacific failed to “cause the powerhouse where asbestos fibers are released to be monitored in such a way as to determine whether every employee’s exposure to asbestos fibers is below the [safety] limits.” This OSHA violation is helpful in any asbestos cancer case against the Union Pacific Railroad. Why? Because the railroad is on notice from OSHA going all the way back to 1978 that it should have done more to protect workers. UP should have performed medical tests including chest x-rays on railroad employees who worked in shops and performed air monitoring in work locations. The failure of the Union Pacific Railroad to conduct such testing after receiving the OSHA violation notice can be used to prove an unsafe workplace. The railroad cannot argue that it did not know that it should have been testing. In short, the OSHA violation proves that the railroad consciously chose not to perform any of the testing required by law.
Anytime a railroad worker gets cancer from railroad exposures to asbestos, diesel exhaust, silica, welding fumes, creosote, weed sprays, or any other substance, it is important to hire a railroad attorney who knows where to find OSHA violations which can establish railroad negligence. If you or a loved one worked for the railroad and have been diagnosed with any of the many different types of cancer caused by asbestos exposure, please do not hesitate to contact the railroad lawyers at Doran & Murphy at 1-800-374-2144.