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Railroad Injury Blog

New Jersey Transit Injury Report

Friday, May 24, 2013

The New Jersey Transit (NJT) injury report is called a Report of Personal Injury. It is important that the report be completed accurately. Any information regarding the cause of the injury should be included.

The important sections of the Report of Injury are:

Circumstances: In this section, it is important to list any defective equipment, unsafe conditions or other factors that may have caused or contributed to your injury. Do not include any extra information that is not relevant to the cause of your injury.

Nature of injury: If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort as the result of the incident, you should seek medical care. Under the FRSA, the railroad cannot interfere in any way with your medical care. In addition, if requested, the railroad must take you to the closest appropriate medical facility. Click here.

It is important to obtain a copy of your injury report. Refer to the report if questioned at a later time about the cause or nature of the injury.

Here is an image of NJT Report of Personal Injury: njt1 and njt2.

By Matt Darby

Police Officers Sue As A Result Of Paulsboro Crash

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Courier Post Newspaper reported last week that police officers who responded to the November 2012 Paulsboro, N.J. crash of a Conrail train have filed suit alleging that they sustained injuries as a result of exposure to vinyl cloride. The lawsuit was filed in Philadelphia Superior Court.

The article can be found 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

FRA Issues Switching Operations Safety Advisory

Thursday, May 09, 2013

On May 3, 2013, the Federal Rail Administration (FRA) issued a safety advisory concerning the safety hazards associated with flat switching operations. Flat switching is performed by one of two methods – kicking or shoving. A car is kicked when it is uncoupled from the switching locomotive while it is motion allowing the car to roll freely and couple upon impact with the cars of the new train. When a car is shoved, it is not uncoupled from the switiching locomotive until it is secured to the new train. The FRA press release regarding the new safety advisory indicated that since 2009, six railroad employees have died as a result of switching operations. The press release went on to state that “During kicking operations, employees are at greater risk if the rail car doesn’t couple securely with other rail cars already resting on the destination track.”

A link the FRA press release and the safety advisory can be found here.

By Matt Darby

CSX Injury / Illness Report

Friday, May 03, 2013

Over the next several weeks, I am going to focus on the importance of properly completing an injury report. Failure to properly complete a Railroad’s injury report can seriously damage a potantial FELA claim. I will start with the CSX Transportion, Inc.’s injury/ illness report.

The CSXT injury report is called a PI-1A. It is important that the PI-1A 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:

  • 25. Describe the incident: In this section, it is important to list any defective equipment, unsafe conditions or other factors that may have caused or contributed to your injury. Do not include any extra information that is not relevant to the cause of your injury.
  • 29. Was anyone at fault?: In this section, it is important that you check “YES” if there was any defective equipment, unsafe condition or other factor that may have caused or contributed to your injury. For example, if the injury was caused by a defective switch, the person at fault would be those responsible for inspecting and maintaining the switch.
  • 30. Did defective tool or equipment cause incident?: In this section, it is important that you check “YES” if there was any defect in any tool or equipment that caused or contributed to your injury.
  • 31. Did the employee have a safe place in which to work?: In this section, it is important that you check “NO” if there was any aspect of your work environment that caused or contributed to your injury.
  • 32. Was the workplace adequately lighted?: In this section, it is important that you check “NO” if lack of adequate lighting caused or contributed to 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 a link to an image of a CSXT PI-1A: PI-1A

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

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

The Locomotive Inspection ACT (LIA)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Locomotive Inspection Act (“LIA”), codified at 49 U.S.C. § 20701 indicates as follows:

Requirements for use: A railroad carrier may use or allow to be used a locomotive or tender and its parts and appurtenances:

  1. are in proper condition and safe to operate with unnecessary danger of personal injury;
  2. have been inspected as required under this chapter and regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Transportation under this chapter; and
  3. can withstand every test prescribed by the Secretary under this chapter.

The LIA places an absolute duty on a railroad to comply with safety standards. Under the LIA, it is unlawful for a railroad to operate any locomotive on its rail lines unless it has been inspected, is able to withstand prescribed safety tests and is safe to operate. A railroad’s violation of the Act results in strict liability. What that means is that there is no consideration regarding whether the Railroad was negligent with respect to whether it caused a Railroader’s injuries. Negligence was discussed earlier in this blog here. The issue of negligence is not relevant to the claim that the Railroad violated the LIA, since the LIA imposes an absolute duty on the Railroad for injuries cause in whole or part by violations of the Act. In addition to the absolute duty placed on the Railroad, there is no consideration whether the injured Railroader was negligent or whether his or her negligence played any part in causing his or her injuries. In other words, if a jury determines the Railroad violated the LIA, it cannot then consider whether the injured Railroader was contributorily negligent and then reduce his or her damages for comparitive fault. Contributory and comparitive negligence was discussed earlier in this blog 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

NTSB Indicates That Goodwell, OK Train Crash Could Have Been Prevented

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) indicated yesterday that the June 24, 2012 collision involving two Union Pacific trains that occurred near Goodwell, Oklahoma could have been prevented by positive train control (PTC). Three Railroaders were killed as a result of that collision. A link to the NTSB’s website regarding that investigation can be found here. A link to the NTSB’s preliminary report can be found here.

By Matt Darby

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