If you earn a living on a Louisiana railroad, you may work as a conductor, engineer, line person, baggage handler, cook, ticket agent or other occupation. While some jobs are inherently more dangerous than others are, all railroad work can sometimes place you at risk for injury. New headlines often focus on derailments and other serious accidents where passengers or workers lose their lives or suffer burns, head trauma, back injuries or other adverse conditions.
However, behind-the-scenes work on the railroad can also be quite dangerous. Your occupational safety relies on several factors, including but not limited to your employer’s obligation to ensure a safe work atmosphere. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration oversees railroad safety. You should know several things regarding OSHA and workplace safety, including where to seek support if you suffer injury on the job.
Your employer’s duties
Sometimes, accidents happen with no particular party being responsible in any way. All too often on the railroad, however, workers’ injuries result when employers have been negligent in their duties to ensure safe working environments. The following list highlights your railroad employer’s obligations with regard to your safety:
- Railroad employers must keep work areas free from recognizable hazards.
- Your employer must provide you with all available information regarding OSHA health and safety standards that are pertinent to your job.
- Your employer must provide you with proper training and all available equipment to lower your risk for injury in the workplace.
- Your employer is obligated in other ways as well, such as posting a poster in a prominent location that lists your rights and responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.
Workplace hazard correction
If you are aware of a particular hazard that your employer has not corrected, you can file a written complaint. OSHA has the power to order your employer to make corrections, changes, upgrades, etc., following inspections of the railroad work environment. Keep the following in mind if you do so:
- If OSHA conducts an on-site inspection in response to your complaint, you may ask a worker representative to accompany the OSHA agent during the inspection.
- Regulations prohibit your employer from choosing your worker representative.
- The OSHA representative may conduct a full or partial inspection of your workplace, as determined necessary according to the violations that are believed to have taken place.
The most frequently reported types of injuries on Louisiana railroads and others throughout the nation, include platform accidents, electrical injuries, burns and slips-and-falls. If an accident involves derailment, there are likely to be other serious injuries as well, including broken bones, head trauma, or in worst cases, fatalities. There are people who can help you navigate appropriate channels of support if your work on the railroad results in injury.