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Railroad Injury Blog

FRA Releases New Smartphone App

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced today that it has released a new smartphone application, the Rail Crossing Locator. The FRA’s press release indicates that the app “provides the public with easy access to safety informaton about the nation’s more than 200,000 highway-rail grade crossings.”

The press relases goes on to state:

“The Rail Crossing Locator app works by prompting uses to enter a specific location, which then allows them to locate highway-rail grade crossings in their area and retrieve important information, such as the physical characteristcs of a crossing and the type of traffic control devices used. The app allows users to report information about grade crossings to the FRA to ensure the most accurate and up-to-date information is available.” The app is free and can be found at the Apple App Store.

A link to the press release can be found here.

By Matt Darby

Amtrak To Get 70 New Locomotives For Northeast Corridor

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Washington Post reported last week that Amtrak is getting 70 new locomotives to run on its Northeast Corridor.

A link to the article is here.

By Matt Darby

Conrail Injury Report

Friday, May 17, 2013

This is the second installment of the the blog of a couple of weeks ago regarding the importantance of properly completing injury reports.

The Conrail injury report is called an Employee Personal Injury Report, Form RMSA-1. It is important this report be completed accurately and completely. While it should be completed as soon as possible after the incident, it should not be completed when the injured persons is under duress, in severe pain or while heavily medicated. Any information regarding the cause of the injury should be included.

The important sections of the form are:

  • Do you desire medical attention at this time: If you have any pain or discomfort or have any reason to believe you may be injured, you should seek medical attention immediately. Failure to do so may lead to a question by the railroad as to whether the incident was the cause of your injury.
  • Describe what happened - give specific, detailed information: In this section, it is important to list any defective equipment, unsafe conditions or other factors that may have caused your injury. Do not include any extra information that is not relevant to the cause of your injury.

It is important that you obtain and retain a copy of your completed report. You should refer to the report if you are questioned at a later time about the injury:

Here is an image of a Form RMSA-1: conrail report.

By Matt Darby

Whole Body Vibration

Friday, April 19, 2013

Studies have linked injuries suffered by locomotive engineers and those who routinely ride within locomotive cabs to whole-body vibration exposure. A study in 2002 determined that long term vibration exposure posed a health and safety risk to engineers in the form of accelerated spinal degeneration, disk herniation and sciatica. Other studies have linked neck and shoulder injuries to long term exposure to the vibration produced by locomotives.

The Railroads have been aware of the health issues associated with vibration and poorly designed and maintained locomotive cab seats since 1972. In that year, a study entitled “Human Factors Survey of Locomotive Cabs” was released on behalf of the Federal Rail Administration (“FRA”). That study indicated that the seats being used in a number of locomotives cabs were insufficient and that major design changes were required to provide comfort and reduce fatigue. Concerning cab vibration, the report indicated “The conditions of vibration, to which the engineer is exposed, should be measured as a first step in surveying the environmental conditions in the cab.”

In 1995, the FRA issued a report entitled “Human Factors Guidelines for the Evaluation of the Locomotive Cab” that set-forth a laundry list of recommendations that would improve the design of locomotive cab seats. With regard to the issue of vibration, the report indicated as follows with regard to vibration “Muscles are used to overcome vibration effects on the body. This can produce fatigue and overuse syndromes, depending on the effort required and length of exposure.” Despite being aware of this information, the Railroads continued to use poorly designed and maintained seats in their locomotive cabs. The Railroads also failed to make any effort to test their locomotives for cab vibration. These failures have put their employees at an increased risk for the development of serious neck, back and shoulder injuries.

By Matt Darby

BSGFD Railroad App

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby has developed a new Railroad App. It contains information regarding FELA and FRSA claims as well as information about the firm. It also contains links for easy contact with Matt. It can be dowloaded here or here.

By Matt Darby

Railroaders, COPD And The Danger Of Diesel Exhaust

Friday, March 29, 2013

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a pulmonary disease that makes it hard to breathe. It is progressive meaning that it gets worse over time. It can cause coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness, and other symptoms. COPD denotes two main conditions, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. In emphysema, the walls between many of the air sacs in the lungs become damaged, and as a result, the air sacs lose their shape and become floppy. In chronic bronchitis, the lining of the airways is constantly irritated and inflamed. This results in thick mucus in the airways, making it difficult to breathe. Most people who have been diagnosed with COPD have both emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

COPD is a major cause of disability. It’s also the third leading cause of death in the United States. The symptoms of COPD often worsen over time and can limit one’s ability to do routine activities. Severe cases of COPD may prevent a person from performing even basic activities.

While cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD, exposure to other lung irritants may cause or contribute to COPD. One of those known irritants is diesel exhaust fumes. The railroads converted from using steam locomotives to diesel powered locomotives after World War II. By 1959, 95% of locomotives were powered by diesel fuel. Today a vast majority of the locomotives being operated by US Railroads are powered by diesel. Health magazine recently indicated that railroading was one of the 10 worst jobs for your lungs.

In 2006, a study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives that indicated that Railroaders exposed to diesel exhaust are at an increased risk for developing COPD. The study’s findings were summarized as follows: “In this case-control study of railroad workers, work in jobs with exposure to diesel exhaust was associated with increased mortality from COPD. These elevations persist after controlling for smoking and increased with increasing years of work in exposed jobs.” The study determined that the risk was highest for those railroaders who worked on operating trains – engineers and conductors. The study can be found here.

By Matt Darby

Repetitive Trauma Injuries

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Many veteran railroad employees suffer from injuries caused by the repetitive nature of their jobs. These injuries are sometimes referred to as cumulative trauma injuries, repetitive trauma injuries, occupational injuries or “wear out” injuries. Whatever the term, these injuries can be just as significant to the injured employee as single event traumas.

Over the years, most railroads have ignored evidence both within the railroad industry and outside the industry about the injurious effects of performing one physical task over and over again. Ergonomics is a field of medical science that determines whether a particular job task, given the repetition of the task, the posture of the employee in performing the task, and force associated with the task, creates a risk of injury over time. Despite knowledge of the ergonomic risk factors (repetition, force and awkward posture) associated with jobs within the railroad industry, railroads in general have done little or nothing to reduce the risks or warn employees about the development of injuries created by the risks.

These injuries can involve almost any area of the body, including the knees, arms, hands, shoulders, back and neck.

Earlier Blog Posts regarding this topic can be found here & here & here.

By Matt Darby

2012 Was A Good Year For Amtrak

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The Washington Post reported last week that Amtrak carried record passenger traffic in 2012. According to the report, Amtrak carried a record 31.2 million passengers last year. That was 55% increase since 1997.

A link to the report is here.

By Matt Darby

Sequestration Will Reduce Certain RRB Benefits

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The United Transporation Union (UTU) indicated on its website today that certain Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits will be reduced because of sequestration. Because of the mandatory budget cuts that went into place on March 1, 2013, RRB unemployment and sickness benefits will be reduced by 9.2 percent. Daily unemployment benefits will be reduced to just under $60 while daily sickness benefits will drop to $55.34. Budgetary reductions will not effect the payment of RRB retirement, survivor and/or disability benefits. A link to the UTU article can be found here.

By Matt Darby

MD Appellate Court Upholds Jury’s Verdict In FELA Case Involving Injured Railroader

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Today the Maryland Court of Appeals issued a decision favorable to an injured Railroader that was represented by BSGFD in a FELA claim. In that case, a Baltimore City jury awarded the Rairoader 1.24 million dollars to compensate him for injuries he sustained to knees as a result of his employment as an locomotive engineer. The Railroad filed an appeal with the Maryland Court of Appeals in an attempt to have that award overturned. The appellate court ruled in favor of the Railroader and held that the Railroad had failed to prove that his claim that he developed knee injuries as a result of walking on large ballast was precluded by federal law.

By Matt Darby

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