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What's time got to do with it? (Railroad injury risk, that is.)

You may be one of many Illinois train lovers whose childhood dream was to one day work on a railroad. Perhaps, you also always enjoyed fixing things; thus, a career in railroad maintenance was the perfect choice for you. It's no secret railroad jobs are among the most dangerous in the nation. You may be surprised to learn, however, that studies suggest the time of day you work may also increase (or decrease) your risk for injury on the job.

From 1997 through just a few years ago, there were nearly 16,000 serious railroad worker injuries reported. It's logical to assume that if you work outdoors, near or on train tracks, you'll typically encounter more potential hazards than someone sitting behind a desk in an office all day. A key factor in avoiding injury is adherence to all safety regulations. Beyond that, understanding the apparent connection between time of day and risk for accidents might also help.

Beware the risks for injuries on the railroad

Are you a morning person; or, do you always try to get the night shift because you love being outdoors under moonlight when things are less busy and quieter? You may not even have a choice when it comes to scheduling, but keeping the following stats in mind may help you avoid injury:

  • Night shifts most risky: FRA studies show that working on a railroad maintenance crew at night includes the greatest risk for injury. It makes sense since visibility is diminished in the dark.
  • Early morning not much better: Although injuries may be non-fatal, odds soar above 9:1 for injury risks if you clock in just after dawn breaks.
  • Fatigue a major factor: One of the crucial issues that may increase your risk for injury at night on the railroad is lack of sleep. It's natural to feel tired at night and this seems to play a significant role in risk for accidents resulting in injuries.

Your employer may find it necessary to schedule the maintenance work you do at night as there are typically less trains, people and activity on railways during such hours. Your employer is also obligated, however, to provide proper training and appropriate safety equipment to keep you and your co-workers safe on the job. The Federal Employers' Liability Act allows you to take legal action against a negligent employer if you suffer injury in a railroad accident deemed preventable.

Many Illinois railway accidents are fatal. Even though you survived your injury, you may have a partial or full disability that prevents you from returning to work. It's understandable to feel frustrated (or even angry) after learning you may have avoided the whole situation if your employer had adhered to safety regulations. Other recovering railroad accident victims have found it helpful to seek effective representation as they attempt to recover their losses in court.

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