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Railroad safety: You can refuse to do work that violates rules

Working on a Connecticut railroad can be a rewarding yet dangerous job. Accident data from recent years shows just how hazardous railroad work can be, including derailments, collisions with motor vehicles at crossings or other mishaps (many of which were preventable) that placed railroad employees in harm's way. The more you know about railroad safety regulations, the better you can protect yourself on the job. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration are the two main governing bodies that oversee railroad safety in the United States. Acute injuries are common when train accidents occur; however, as a railroad employee, you may also be at risk for occupational injuries that develop over time. In either case, you are entitled to benefits under the Federal Employers Liability Act, if you suffer an on-the-job railroad injury.   

FRA says you can submit good faith challenges  

If you witness a potentially dangerous situation that violates procedure or notice that your employer is ignoring a safety regulation on the job, the FRA safety advisory states that you can issue a challenge. The following list explains the system that allows you to submit a good faith challenge to protect yourself from injury: 

  • The good faith challenge system allows you to refuse to perform any or all on-track duties that violate existing safety regulations.  
  • You may refuse to return to your duties unless and until your employer rectifies the on-track safety violation. 
  • Your employer may not retaliate or cause you to fear retribution in any way for submitting a good faith challenge.  
  • Your employer is also legally obligated to have written procedures on hand to resolve safety issues associated with good faith challenges. 

The FRA does not cover every railroad safety situation. That's where OSHA comes in. OSHA regulations apply to railroads and contractors as well. Under such regulations, your employer must identify safety hazards and protect you by assessing identified hazards and implementing measures to correct problem issues. Your employer must also provide proper training and equipment to keep you as safe as possible on the job.

If that doesn't happen

The main difference between the FELA and workers' compensation is that, as a railroad employee, you are able to file a personal injury claim against your employer for negligence. The process is often complex and stressful. This is why most Connecticut railroad workers who suffer injuries on the job that were preventable rely on experienced litigation support to present their cases.

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