The railroad industry creates some of the most hazardous workplaces in which employees can work. Carmen are responsible for building and repairing railcars, which exposes them to various hazards from machinery, equipment, materials, and chemicals on the worksite. In addition, carmen may be responsible for repairing and maintaining locomotive cabs. Carmen injuries can be severe, resulting in an inability to work and permanent medical impairments. Carmen can also suffer from occupationally-related diseases, like cancer, as a result of their work with many toxic substances including asbestos, diesel exhaust and chemical solvents. When employer negligence leads to injuries to carmen and other railroad employees, they may have claims under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). Through a FELA claim, they may be able to obtain compensation for their injuries, including medical treatment, lost wages, and permanent impairments. A personal injury lawyer may be able to analyze your particular circumstances and determine the viability of any claims that you may have.
Railroad Carmen Job Duties
The primary function of carmen in the railroad industry is to build, inspect, and repair railcars, or in some cases, locomotive cabs. To carry out their job duties, carmen have a wide variety of responsibilities and tasks, including the following:
- Cut metal, sandblast, weld, paint, and generally construct railcars or cabs
- Inspect cars and maintain compliance with railroad safety rules
- Remove, repair, or replace railcar or cab parts
- Operate machinery, equipment, and vehicles
As a result of these duties, carmen often are working on railcars and locomotive cabs in less-than-ideal conditions. They may be in awkward positions for lengthy periods and operating various forms of heavy machinery. Similar to workers in the construction industry, they suffer exposure to a variety of hazardous conditions.
Common Job-Related Injuries in the Railroad Industry
Carmen regularly engage in various work tasks that can cause them injuries, whether the injuries occur from an isolated incident or occur over time.
What Are Repetitive Stress Injuries?
One common type of injury that carmen often suffer is repetitive stress injury. These injuries typically affect the hands, elbows, shoulders, neck, spine, back, hips, and knees.
In many cases, these injuries can result from the repetitive nature of specific tasks necessary to repair railcars or locomotive cabs. Repetitive stress injuries can be painful, debilitating, and impact the ability of carmen to continue to work in their jobs. When railroad employers fail to prevent these types of injuries to carmen by not maintaining safe work environments and tolerating unsafe work practices, they may be liable for the resulting injuries.
What Other Injuries Can Carmen Sustain?
The jobs of carmen also expose them to regular kneeling, crawling, pushing, pulling, and other physical work actions that can lead to significant injuries, including injuries to backs and necks, arms, legs, hands, feet, shoulders, knees, elbows, and other joints
A severe injury to any of these body parts can result in a great deal of pain, discomfort, and required medical treatment. These carmen injuries may be so extreme that they prevent carmen from being able to perform the essential functions of their jobs. When carmen experience injuries such as these while on the job, they may be able to seek compensation for their injuries from their railroad employers.
Carmen and Occupational Diseases
In the course of their job duties, carmen consistently work in and around railyards, locomotives, and railcars. As a result of their daily activities in these locations, they may develop occupational diseases arising from the various chemicals and toxic materials used in the railroad industry. Some of these diseases may include:
- Nervous system disorders and renal failure due to lead poisoning
- Asbestosis and other types of lung disease arising from exposure to asbestos
- Lung disease due to exposure to diesel fumes, silica dust, petroleum, and chemical solvents
- Cancers due to exposure to asbestos, diesel exhaust, benzene and other toxic substances
Additionally, carmen may develop hearing loss or deafness as a result of the continual loud noises that occur in a railroad environment. Whenever injuries to carmen result from their work environment, they may be able to seek relief from their employers through a FELA claim.
Filing Claims for Injuries to Carmen
Carmen injuries can result in permanent debilitating injuries that prevent these individuals from returning to their jobs. Carmen who have sustained injuries as a result of negligence by their railroad employers may be entitled to relief under FELA. When employers fail to maintain safe working environments, fail to train and supervise employees properly, and fail to insist upon safety protocols, their negligence may make them liable for resulting injuries.
Consulting legal counsel may be the most effective way to obtain compensation for injuries caused by negligence. FELA provides a vehicle for injured carmen to not only seek damages but to hold negligent railroads accountable for their actions.