Congress enacted the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) in 1907 after many railroad accidents and injuries involved railroad employees across the United States.
FELA was intended to ensure that workers hurt by the negligence of the railroad companies could be compensated and recover damages through legal means.
FELA’s definition of negligence
According to FELA, negligence of the railroad is defined as “the act of doing something or the failure to do something that is considered not normal which causes injury or death to another.” It also includes failure to act responsibly or to take ordinary precautions or care to ensure that the workplace is safe.
Railroad workers have been exposed to toxic chemicals for years, and employers have known about the risk. When these solvents are absorbed through inhalation or skin contact, the central nervous system, heart, liver and kidneys can be affected.
Workers have claimed railroad injuries ranging from minor to serious cases of brain damage and other neurological illnesses.
Many of these railroad employees are still working in negligent conditions, with some being misdiagnosed due to the complexity of the illnesses involved with railroad injuries. The train injuries these railroad workers sustain are not always the direct result of train accidents, but compensation can still be sought when an injury has occurred.
A safe work environment
What constitutes a safe work environment? Under FELA law, the railroad is responsible for safe transportation of people and goods, and is required to make inspections looking for the following:
• Safe fellow employees • Reasonably safe cars
• Reasonably safe tracks • Safe machinery
• Reasonably safe locomotives • Safe tools
Railroad companies must provide proper training, supervision and adequate assistance to ensure that workers are not killed or injured on the job. If these precautions are not executed properly, train accidents are more likely to occur.