A railroad maintenance-of-way worker was recently killed during on-track excavation activities. The railroad worker had over a decade of experience and was the Employee-in-Charge of the crew filling an area along an embankment with ballast. During the course of the work, he became pinned between the bucket arm of the machine and the body of the machine, fatally injuring him. The FRA has issued Safety Bulleting 2024-03 reminding railroads, railroad workers and railroad contractors about safety precautions when working on, near and around roadway maintenance machines.

One of the precautions highlighted by this safety bulletin is the railroads empower workers to challenge rules. The right to a good faith challenge is found in FRA regulation 214.311(b), which grants employees the “absolute right to make a good faith challenge” as to whether on-track safety procedures being applied at the job location comply with the rules of the railroad. The FRA has repeatedly stressed the need for a roadway worker’s right to make a good faith challenge without fear of retaliation or discipline.

Other safety precautions outlined in the bulletin include:

  • Railroads providing employees with adequate training on rules for workers who operate and work near these machines;
  • Railroads providing appropriate oversight to ensure that workers know and follow the safety rules;
  • Railroads providing employees an opportunity to seek immediate clarification or explanation of safety rules;
  • Having proper job briefings that address all the safety risks in the work being performed;
  • Ensuring good communication between all of the machine operators and the workers on the ground;
  • Understanding the importance of complying with the rules.

Under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), railroads are required to provide workers with a reasonably safe place to work. If the railroad fails to do this, and a worker gets hurt, the worker can obtain compensation for injuries, lost time from work and pain and suffering. Proving that the railroad failed to provide a safe place to work can be complicated, but an experienced FELA attorney can help. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.