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FELA and Workplace Safety Regulations
We work for the railroad worker. We work to give you a voice and demand results. If you've been injured in connection with the work you do in the railroad industry - call Derzon & Menard at 414-326-4643 for a free consultation.
One of the easiest ways to prove that a railroad company is liable for your injuries under FELA is to establish that your injuries were caused by the railroad's violation of some federal workplace safety regulation that protects railroad employees. One such law is the Federal Railroad Safety Authorization Act of 1994. In addition, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety standards and regulations apply to work done by railroad employees. An experienced FELA attorney at Derzon & Menard, S.C in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, can determine which workplace safety regulations are applicable to your case.
Federal Railroad Safety Authorization Act of 1994
In 1994, Congress recodified the Safety Appliance Act, the Boiler Inspection Act, the Hours of Service Act and the Railroad Safety Act of 1970 and combined them with other railroad statutes into a new law called the Federal Railroad Safety Authorization Act of 1994. Under FELA, a violation of this Act is treated as negligence per se, and the plaintiff must only show a causal link between the violation and his or her injuries in order to hold the railroad liable.
Under federal law, railroads must equip cars and locomotives with basic safety equipment including the following:
- Automatic couplers
- Secure sill steps
- Efficient hand brakes
- Secure ladders and running boards when required by the Secretary of Transportation
- Secure handholds or grab irons on car roofs at the top of each ladder, if ladders are required
- Standard height drawbars
49 U.S.C. §20302. In addition, a sufficient number of vehicles in a train (a collection of cars pulled by a locomotive) must have power or train brakes that allow an engineer to control the train's speed without the use of common hand brakes. Id. Further, at least 50 percent of the cars in the train must have power or train brakes that the engineer is required to use. Id. If a carrier does not provide any of these safety appliances or if they fail to perform, it is a violation of federal law that gives rise to a FELA cause of action. A plaintiff can establish a violation by showing there was a defect in the appliance or that the appliance did not work in the customary way. The plaintiff must show that the violation contributed to the plaintiff's injury.
Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) within the Department of Labor. OSHA imposes several obligations on employers including the duty to:
- Provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards
- Inform employees of OSHA safety and health standards that apply to their workplace
- Display the official OSHA poster that describes rights and responsibilities under the Act in a prominent place
- Establish a comprehensive written hazard communication program that includes provisions for such things as container labeling, material safety data sheets and an employee training program
- Inform employees of the existence, location and availability of their medical and exposure records when employees first begin employment and at least annually thereafter, and to provide these records upon request
If you can establish that your injuries were caused by the railroad's violation of a federal workplace safety regulation, that railroad can be held liable for your injuries under FELA. Talk to an experienced FELA attorney at Derzon & Menard, S.C in Milwaukee about your situation.
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