Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) reports show that almost half of all railroad accidents and more than one-third of all railroad worker injuries occur in railyards. According to studies that compared railroad worker fatalities to those of other industries, the injury and fatality rate for railyard workers is more than double the national average.

Railyard Injury Facts

These statistics might seem surprising at first, but not after considering the nature of the industry. Vast amounts of the country’s freight move by rail, all of which must move through multiple railyards. The constantly moving freight combined with massive forces, hazardous walking and lighting conditions, aging equipment, and railroad management often looking to cut corners create inherently dangerous conditions in railyards. Risk factors increase as many inexperienced new hires start out working in railyards; FRA statistics show that railyard workers under age 35 suffer a higher percentage of injury.

Studies by the FRA also show the following:

Every day, railroad workers face hazards that include moving equipment, poorly maintained switches, heavy machinery, exposure to toxic cargo, and many others.

Railroad brakemen, signalmen, and switch operators perform the bulk of train side and yard work. This may include operating track switches to route cars to different areas of the yard, setting warning signals, signaling locomotive operators, helping couple and uncouple cars to make up or break up trains, and inspecting couplings, air hoses, and handbrakes. Because these tasks require being on the ground or on equipment, they often put railroad workers in harm’s way: between cars and out of locomotive operators’ sight, relying on hand signals and radio communication with the locomotive operator who could be a quarter mile away. Nearly half of railroad brake, signal, and switch operator fatalities resulted from being struck by a railway vehicle.

Train side work is not the principal function of conductors and yardmasters; however, a third of this group’s fatal accidents involved being struck by a railway vehicle. Onboard accidents accounted for more than half of conductor and yardmaster fatalities.

FELA is an injured railroad worker’s only means of compensation. Navigating the complex movements, regulations, and rules that govern railroad operations requires a seasoned, experienced FELA injury attorney. Count on the experienced, knowledgeable attorneys of Bolt Hoffer Boyd.

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