Top Five Railroad Worker Occupational Diseases

On Behalf of | Oct 23, 2020 | Uncategorized

Despite numerous safety improvements, the number of serious or fatal railroad worker accidents has stayed about the same for the last several years. The medical bills related to these conditions, such as the ones outlined below, often exceed $100,000.

The Federal Employer Liability Act provides compensation to these victims if the injury occurred on the job, the railroad was engaged in interstate commerce (e.g. the rail line crossed state lines), and railroad work caused or contributed to the injury. So, people with pre-existing conditions are normally entitled to FELA benefits.

The FELA claims process is rather long and complex. Additionally, many victims unintentionally torpedo their claims by doing the wrong thing. An experienced Lexington personal injury attorney guides you through the system and helps you avoid wrong turns. As a result, attorney-represented victims have a much better chance to obtain the compensation they deserve.

Benzene Exposure

These fumes are prevalent in diesel fuel emissions. Benzene fumes are also common in landscaping equipment, like gasoline-powered lawnmowers. That distinctive, slightly sweet smell that these emissions produce is usually benzene. These chemicals have been linked to a number of serious illnesses, such as leukemia.

Leukemia (bone marrow cancer) can be acute, but it is usually chronic. That is, the disease appears slowly over time. Prompt and proper diagnosis is essential. Cancer survival rates have improved dramatically since the twentieth century, but the clock is still ticking.

Asbestos Exposure

Until the 1970s, this fibrous mineral was commonly used as a fireproofing material in buildings, ships, and railroad equipment. Typically, equipment owners only remove asbestos during major renovation projects. Since many diesel train engines have not been significantly altered since they hit the rails, asbestos is a common hazard.

Mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of lung cancer, is one of the most serious asbestos-related diseases. Mesothelioma has a very high fatality rate. Making matters worse, largely since the incubation period is usually more than thirty years, doctors often misdiagnose mesothelioma as a more common and less aggressive kind of cancer. As a result, by the time victims receive the proper diagnosis, their illness is very difficult to treat.

Lead Poisoning

A stunning array of railroad and railroad-related equipment has high levels of lead. Some examples include:

  • Red Rattler paint,
  • Lubricants,
  • Brake linings,
  • Coal emissions, and
  • Dust.

The human body does not tolerate lead or other heavy metals. A tiny amount can cause a serious injury.

Elevated lead levels cause heart problems, such as high blood pressure and an enlarged heart. Lead also affects male and female reproductive systems. These victims either experience problems having children, or their children have high rates of birth defects. Lead also causes renal diseases and various nervous system issues.

Hearing Loss

Many railroad workers are intermittently exposed to sounds above 85 decibels. That’s basically a school cafeteria or a busy city intersection. Because exposure is only intermittent, many railroad workers either do not have earplugs or do not feel the need to use them. As a result, their hearing gradually deteriorates.

If caught early enough, hearing loss is permanent, but it is treatable with an advanced hearing aid. Any delayed diagnosis could mean damage to the eardrum. Risky and invasive surgery can sometimes reverse this damage, but there is no guarantee.

Repetitive Stress Disorder

A recent study found a concrete link between railroad vibrations and cumulative trauma injuries. Since the 1950s, many railroad companies have done little or nothing to make their cars safer in this area. So, as the volume of traffic increases, these injuries get worse. Additionally, many tasks, like walking the rails and throwing switches, lend themselves to repetitive stress injuries.

Railroad workers risk serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.