The Changing Landscape of American Railroads
The American railroad industry has changed significantly in the past 20 years. This has altered the nature of railroad work and unfortunately increased the danger for the workers and the general public. Worker safety is essential for the industry to run smoothly. Unfortunately, profit maximization often takes precedence over safety.
It is our responsibility as local FELA attorneys to shed light on changes in policy and legal developments. These changes have contributed to a rise in railroad worker injuries. We must explore these shifts in detail.
Deregulation and Privatization:
One of the most significant factors impacting the safety of railroad work is the deregulation and privatization of the industry. In 1995, the Interstate Commerce Commission was abolished. The Surface Transportation Board (STB) took its place. The shift eliminated many regulatory safeguards. This made it easier for railroads to compete, and put more emphasis on making a profit than on safety.
Staffing and Employee Reductions:
In the pursuit of cost-cutting and efficiency, American railroads have undergone workforce reductions over the past two decades. Reductions in staffing levels have resulted in overworked and fatigued employees, increasing the likelihood of accidents and injuries. The practice of “single-employee train crews” has become more prevalent, where a single operator is responsible for operating a train, compromising safety and response capabilities.
Deferred Maintenance and Infrastructure Investment:
The lack of adequate investment in railroad infrastructure has further amplified the risks faced by workers. Many railroads have deferred crucial maintenance projects, leading to deteriorating tracks, aging equipment, and outdated signaling systems. These conditions increase the likelihood of derailments, collisions, and other hazardous incidents, placing the lives of workers at greater risk.
Shift towards Contract and Temporary Labor:
The past two decades have witnessed a shift in the rail industry towards increased utilization of contract and temporary labor. This trend has resulted in a less-experienced workforce with limited knowledge of safety protocols and procedures. With contractors often working under tighter deadlines and less oversight, the risk of accidents and injuries can escalate.
Inadequate Safety Regulations and Enforcement:
While several safety regulations and initiatives have been introduced over the years, the enforcement and implementation of these measures have often fallen short. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), responsible for regulating and overseeing railroad safety, has faced budget constraints, staffing shortages, and limited resources, hampering its ability to adequately protect workers.
Technological Advancements and Automation:
The advent of advanced technologies, including automation, has brought both benefits and risks to the railroad industry. While automation can enhance efficiency, it also introduces new challenges. The integration of automated systems requires robust training, maintenance, and ongoing evaluation. Insufficient training and lapses in monitoring can lead to errors and accidents, jeopardizing the safety of workers.
Over the past two decades, the business of American railroads has undergone significant changes that have unfortunately made railroad work more dangerous. Deregulation, staffing reductions, deferred maintenance, reliance on contract labor, inadequate safety regulations, and technological advancements have all contributed to increased risks for railroad workers.
We, as FELA attorneys, are committed to fighting for the rights of injured railroad workers. We also advocate for stronger safety measures. This ensures the railroad industry is a safer environment for those who keep it running.
What if you’ve been injured by the railroad?
If you lost a loved one in a railroad accident, FELA does provide recourse. Hiring a train accident attorney who is experienced with FELA law is crucial. The railroads look out for themselves; a FELA attorney looks out for you and your family’s financial well being.
Kujawski & Associates, LLC are FELA attorneys in O’Fallon, Illinois. Our railroad accident attorneys handle Federal Employers’ Liability Act cases across the country. You will owe nothing in attorney fees unless you get compensation resulting from your FELA injury claim with the assistance of a FELA lawyer right here in St Clair County IL.
If you have been injured on the job or have lost a loved one in a railroad accident, or if you have been harassed for advocating for railroad safety, and need a railroad injury attorney near St Louis, contact us at 800-624-4571 or contact us online for a free consultation.
We’re railroad injury lawyers you can count on.