Federal Railroad Administration Announces Rule to Retain Two-Person Crews
America’s big railroads have sought to cut costs relentlessly in recent years, potentially increasing the dangers faced by workers. Their actions included reducing crews on many services. Fortunately, a new rule announced this summer will require the major railroads to maintain two-person crews.
The Federal Railroad Administration said railroads will be required to continue using two-person crews in most circumstances in a rule published last month in the Federal Register, ABC News reported.
Given that freight trains haul all kinds of materials across the county including hazardous chemicals as well as combustible petroleum products, our railroad worker injury lawyers welcome this rule.
Exceptions to the FRA Rule
However, the FRA will allow an exception to the rule; namely short-line railroads that have already been using one-man crews. Major railroads will be able to apply for permission to use smaller crews, only if they can demonstrate it is safe.
The issue of crewing on freight trains has deadlocked contract talks between railroads and unions over recent months. The unions opposed one-person crews for years, citing concerns about safety and jobs. Labor agreements requiring two-person crews have existed for more than three decades at major railroads.
Now the railroads are seeking the discretion to use a sole operator on trains and move conductors to ground-based jobs if automatic braking systems have been installed.
Concerns About Single Operator Crews
We have raised concerns about this practice previously. Freight trains are typically very long and cross remote parts of the country. We are concerned a single operator may be unable to handle an emergency. If a train operator suffers a health issue, it’s important to have a second crew member on board to take over.
Sadly, the big railroads have cut manpower in recent years to make bigger profits. We know first-hand from the injuries suffered by many of the railroad workers who we help the constant stresses and strains of working on the railroad.
The rail unions welcomed the FRA’s two-person crew rule. Greg Regan, President of the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL, said crew size is a fundamental safety issue in a press release. He stated:
“Transportation labor welcomes the FRA’s proposed rule requiring a minimum of two crew members on trains and establishing minimum requirements for the location of crew members on a moving train to promote safe and effective teamwork.
“This proposed rule acknowledges that crew size is fundamentally a safety issue at its core. By creating a federal standard across the industry, the FRA can address the significant safety concerns presented by railroads operating with single-person crews.”
Contact Our Railroad Accident Attorneys for More Info
As experienced railroad accident attorneys, Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers represents many railroad workers who make claims under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) when they are hurt on the job.
Railroad workers face daily hazards from heavy machinery, grueling conditions, or exposure to dangerous chemicals on the job. It can be daunting and difficult to take on massive companies such as CSX, Norfolk Southern, and the Union Pacific Railroad on your own.
Talk to a railroad injury lawyer with a long track record of fighting for the rights of railroad workers both in Virginia and nationwide. Call us for a free consultation.