It is likely that most Americans would answer “construction worker” when asked to name a job with a high risk of injury. However, workers on the railroad have one of the most dangerous jobs in the country.
Working on the rails carries with it a very high risk of catastrophic injury. Even if those injuries are not catastrophic immediately, they can have a long-lasting impact on a person’s quality of life. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, railroad employees are about two times more likely to die on the job as compared to other American workers.
The most common injuries on the railroad
Broken or fractured bones is one of the most common injuries sustained by railroaders. It is very easy for a railroad worker to slip on an oily surface or lose balance walking on ballast. Burns are also very common injuries. A railroad worker could sustain a burn due to spending lots of time around hot metal surfaces, but also from hose ruptures, engine fires, chemical solvents and explosives.
Much railroad work centers around repetitive movement and heavy lifting, so many railroad workers experience joint, back and neck injuries. These can happen instantaneously, or be the result of years of work. Some railroaders even experience loss of limbs or general disfigurement due to how dangerous the job can be.
Understanding your rights
Due to how dangerous being a railroader is, railroad workers have rights and protections under the Federal Employer Liability Act (FELA). Depending on the nature of your injury, the law may find you entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, back pay or even future wages.