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Employer Responsibilities Under FELA

In the interest of preserving the safety of railroad workers, the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) sets out a number of rules about how railroad employers must protect their employees from preventable harm. Any railroad employer who fails to fulfill the requirements imposed on them by FELA may bear liability for damages if their negligence contributes to cause a job-related injury or illness.

Understanding employer responsibilities under FELA can be key to effectively pursuing compensation as a hurt railroad worker following a workplace accident. A knowledgeable railroad accident attorney from Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers could help identify potential grounds for a FELA claim and work with you to pursue full financial recovery in Virginia or elsewhere.

Responsibility to Enforce Safety Rules and Training Standards

One of the most significant obligations that railroad employers in Virginia and across the U.S. have under FELA is ensuring their employees have the right knowledge, tools, and equipment to safely perform work-related tasks. At a basic level, this means that railroad companies must meet or exceed federal safety standards for their industry, as well as establish, maintain, and enforce additional workplace safety rules as needed.

Beyond that, railroad employers are expected to provide or sponsor sufficient training for every employee based on his job duties. Finally, employers must inspect worksites, even industries owned by rail customers, to make sure that rail workers are provided a safe place to work and that any accidents that occur are reported.

Obligation to Address Hazardous Working Conditions Under FELA

Of course, safety standards can only do so much to protect railroad workers from harm if the environment in which they work is inherently unsafe. Accordingly, railroad employers in the nation and Virginia have a responsibility under FELA to inspect worksites regularly for hazardous conditions and either fix them or warn workers about them as soon as possible. Similarly, employers must ensure workers have access to appropriate and functional safety equipment, and that they use this equipment at all times when necessary to safely complete job-related tasks. 

Maintaining a Safe Working Environment

In addition to establishing guidelines to ensure safe working practices, employers in the railroad industry also must foster a safe working environment. In practice, this entails setting reasonable quotas for daily work output so that employees are not pushed to engage in unsafe behavior simply to increase productivity. Railroads must provide “sufficient help” where a single worker does not have the physical capacity base to safely execute a task.

Additionally, having a safe working environment often requires providing some measure of security from criminal acts. If a railroad worker suffers harm due to intentional malicious conduct, he may be able to file a FELA claim. In this situation, a claimant must prove that their employer failed to take adequate steps, such as installing fencing or retaining security personnel, to prevent an incident like this. This failure to act in response to foreseeable harm could constitute negligence and therefore allow for a FELA claim.

Learn More About Employer Responsibilities Under FELA from a Virginia Attorney

Since negligence by a rail employer is a core component of a successful FELA claim, not every accident that involves a railroad worker getting hurt necessarily justifies a lawsuit. To recover compensation after such an incident, you must be able to show that your employer violated one or more of the responsibilities, and that their breach of duty caused the harm you suffered at least in part.

A qualified railroad accident attorney from Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers could provide essential assistance collecting evidence and building a strong argument for compensation. Call today to learn more about railroad employer responsibilities under FELA.

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