Railroad Workers’ Safety and Injury Rights
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Michael J. Warshauer with Warshauer Law Group, P.C..
It’s no secret that railroad work includes significant hazards, and any negligence on the part of those responsible for ensuring safe conditions for railroad workers’ can result in severe consequences for passengers and workers alike. While there are obvious protections in place for passengers put in harm’s way on a railway, what rights exist to protect railroad workers?
First, it’s important to note that if an employer has retaliated against you for reporting or refusing to work under hazardous conditions, you must file a retaliation complaint with OSHA within 180 days after becoming aware of your employer’s actions. Waiting to file a retaliation complaint could result in a forfeiture of compensation. The Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) ensures a collection of basic rights for railroad workers, and no one is above the rules issued by the FRSA.
The following are basic legal rights and protections belonging to railroad workers:
- The right to report an accident or injury. Railroad workers have the legal right to report an accident or injury to their employer as well as any applicable organization. If an employer tries to stop you or retaliates against you due to your report, contact OSHA to report the violation of your right.
- The right to refuse to work under hazardous conditions. Railroad workers have the right to refuse to work under hazardous conditions. Like any employer, railroad companies are responsible for ensuring the general safety of their employees, including allowing them to cease work under hazardous conditions.
- The right to see your own doctor when seeking medical care. Railroad workers have the right to see their own doctor when seeking medical care for a workplace injury or illness. Although an employer may try to pressure you to seek medical care from a source of their choosing, you do not have to do so. In fact, it might be a good idea to see your own doctor to ensure the security of your medical records detailing the injury.
- The right to an attorney. Railroad workers have the right to speak with and hire an attorney to defend themselves or pursue legal action against the railroad company. An employer may pressure a railroad worker, claiming that they don’t need an attorney and the matter can be handled internally. However, if a worker feels the situation might be better handled with an attorney present, they are within their legal rights to have an attorney present.
- The right to offer up information. Railroad workers have the right to offer up information that could support their own or another worker’s case, complaint, or report, and have the right to not experience retaliation from the employer as a result.
- The right to sue the railroad for monetary damages. Railroad workers have the right to sue the railroad company for monetary damages in the form of medical bills or damaged property.
- The right to enforce and have enforced Federal Railroad Safety Law (FRA) regulations. Railroad workers have the right to have FRA regulations enforced and to enforce them when possible. If these regulations are not enforced, workers have the right to report their employer to the appropriate agencies.
- The right to enforce and have OSHA regulations enforced. Railroad workers have the right to have OSHA regulations enforced, and to enforce them where possible. They also have the right to report violations of OSHA regulations without the threat of retaliation by their employer.
- The right to be protected from falls. Railroad workers have the right to be protected from the common risk of falls, especially while working on railroad bridges. If an employer does not provide adequate protection and safety measures for their workers and a railroad worker is injured in a fall as a result, the worker may seek legal recourse against the railroad.
- The right to protection from moving trains. Railroad workers have the right to be protected from the common hazards prevented by moving trains. Similar to the risk of falls, if an employer does not provide adequate protection or safety protocols to protect railroad workers from the hazards of moving trains, the company may be held liable.
If you are being pressured to work under unsafe conditions, take action.
OSHA recommends you notify your supervisor or employer regarding unsafe conditions, workplace injuries and illnesses, violation of railroad safety laws, and to report violations of Federal Railroad Administration regulations. OSHA also advises railroad workers to request medical and first-aid treatment as needed and to follow the treatment orders issued by a doctor regardless of pressure from a railroad company. If you have questions regarding your rights as a railroad worker, seek legal counsel to learn more and find out if you are eligible to take legal action.
Written by AskTheLawyers.com on behalf of Michael Warshauer with Warshauer Law Group.