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FELA – A Railroad Employee’s Protection against Erring Railroad Employers

The tremendous increase in the use of trains in transporting people and cargo between the latter part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century also saw a great increase in the number of work-related accidents involving railroad workers.

It is the duty of railroad employers to make sure that their employees are provided with a place safe enough to work in. Besides state laws, there are also federal laws on the standards of safety that employers need to follow. In the case of railroad work, some of the safety standards include:

  • Proper job training of those hired
  • Tools and equipment needed to perform job should be in good working condition
  • Sufficient lighting in work area
  • Enough man-power to accomplish required work
  • Area of work is properly maintained and cleaned
  • Proper supervision of and in the workplace
  • Provision of safe walkways
  • All the train’s brakes (hand or manual brakes) should be without defects and in good working condition (including connecting pipes, air reservoirs and air hoses)
  • All and each of the parts of the locomotive should be safe for use and always working properly

If an injury is sustained by any employee during the course of his/her work, he/she is protected by Federal Employer’s Liability Act or FELA, giving him/her rights to file a claims lawsuit against the railroad employer for financial damages, like medical expenses, disability (partial or permanent) and wage loss.

FELA was passed by the US Congress in 1908 to solve the financial problems railroad employees (and their families) were put into in the event of employee injury or death. For the FELA claim to be valid, however, three important facts will have to be proven:

  • That the employee was injured during the performance of work
  • That the work area was not totally safe, the equipment and/or tools available for use were defective
  • The accident was a clear result of the unsafe work area or working condition

Understanding your rights as a railroad employee and knowing well what FELA stipulates are ways of ensuring that you never get to suffer financial troubles in case something goes wrong in the workplace.

Workplace Slip and Fall Accidents – Always a Liability of the Employer

Some people who would hear about a severe injury sustained from a simple case of slip and fall may refuse to believe that such thing is possible and may even think that such is a total non-sense. How will falling on your butt cause so much harm? It can definitely cause people to find the situation funny, but for it to cause a serious injury? Impossible!

To the more than two million victims of slip and fall accidents every year, however, this is far from being a joke. For it can result to fractures, causing severe pains, even impairment. The Consumer Product Safety Commission or CPSC knows this to be a fact, saying that most slip and falls are workplace accidents, causing the victims to miss work, the number of days depends on the severity of the injury sustained.

According to the CPSC, a slip and fall accident is the most common cause of injury in the workplace and hip fracture is the injury typically sustained by victims, whose ages usually fall between 15 and 24. The commission says further that the most common reasons why such accidents happen are exposed wires, slick or slippery floors, inadequate lighting, uneven steps or floors, unnoticeable slight elevations on floors, spills or wet floors, absence of warning signs or guardrails where these ought to be present and other forms of hazards that can cause a person to slip or trip.

Though the accident is usually blamed on the victims themselves, for failing to take notice of possible dangers or take extra care when walking, it is still the owner of the firm or establishment (if the accident happens outside the office) who has the greater responsibility over the cause of the accident.

It can be a case of negligence on the part of the owner or employer (and his/her representatives in the persons of managers and supervisors) in seeing to it that the workplace is always safe from possible accidents that could easily be avoided. Such negligence is also the usual cause of additional costs for the firm, which has to compensate the injured employee for medical treatment and wage loss if the accident causes the employee to miss work.