What is cumulative trauma? Cumulative trauma disorders (CTD) occur when repetitive stress or overuse of a body part causes injury. CTDs are a significant cause of occupational disease in the United States.

How CTDs Develop Over Time

Unlike workers who sustain acute injuries from a single occurrence, many long-time railroad workers suffer serious injuries through cumulative trauma or repetitive stress. CTDs can take years to develop, and the railroad industry is aware of the conditions, equipment, and work practices that lead to these injuries. However, rather than put protections in place or make changes to procedures or equipment, the railroads focus on cutting costs, ignoring the human cost of doing business.

Meanwhile, railroad workers are typically unaware that poor equipment or work practices are slowly causing debilitating injuries. Often, when the victim becomes aware of any symptoms, it is too late to prevent permanent or even career-ending injuries.

Whole Body Vibration (WBV) Injuries

Railroad workers commonly suffer from types of cumulative trauma disorders known as whole body vibration injuries (WBV). Forces such as shocks, jolts, lateral sway, and vertical bouncing are transmitted to the body through the feet and buttocks; bodily trauma accumulates with long-term daily exposure. Conductors, locomotive engineers, and trainmen are all exposed to WBV in the form of jolts and shocks that occur routinely in train operations.

Locomotive cabs are subject to immense forces needed to move a train’s millions of pounds of steel and freight. In addition, locomotive cab seats used for years by the railroad industry were poorly constructed and have contributed to thousands of cumulative trauma injuries. The railroad industry knew of these dangers for decades and did nothing to improve or prevent hazardous conditions. Poorly maintained and rough-riding track in many areas further illustrate the railroad industry’s indifference toward the seriousness of whole body vibration injuries.

If you believe you are suffering from a cumulative trauma disorder or repetitive stress injury, contact the railroad attorneys of Bolt Hoffer Boyd Law Firm. We’ll help you determine if you have a claim under FELA. Call us to schedule your free initial consultation.