The Federal Employees Liability Act (FELA) states that railroad workers are entitled to safe and fair working conditions while on duty or performing tasks related to their work. In addition to safety, FELA laws also guarantee work hour rights by establishing hours of operation guidelines, which dictate the maximum number of hours a railroad worker can work.
As a result of these laws, railroads create crew change stations where a crew that has reached its limit must depart the train and a new crew must board. This mandate also requires that the departed crew be transported back home. For this, railroads contract vendors to meet crews at the train and pick them up. Unfortunately, these contract drivers can be overworked, making the return transportation dangerous for the crew members (as well as the driver). However, since FELA guarantees safety, state laws have been established to help regulate contract pick up and driver safety.
Federal Railroad Transport Safety Regulations
According to the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis, more than 1,700 railroad employees have been injured on the job due to transportation accidents not involving the train itself. Due to this alarming statistic, the 81st Texas State Legislature adopted the following safety regulations for the transport of railroad workers:
- Qualifications of drivers and longer vehicles: establishing basic rules and responsibilities on how and when contract drivers are considered qualified to transport passengers.
- Parts and accessories necessary for safe operation: establishing minimum requirements for transport vehicles; including maximum capacity, safety provisions, etc.
- Hours of service: establishing how long a driver can be on duty, as well as how much rest he must get between shifts in order to decrease fatigue accidents.
- Inspection repair and maintenance: establishing qualifications and responsibilities for maintenance as well as for inspectors who are performing the maintenance.
Is This Enough for Your Safety?
Given the high potential for accidents and injuries, do you think these laws are enough to protect you from a carryall accident? Do you think contract carriers should be held to the same safety standards as commercial passenger vehicles and drivers? Do you feel secure when you put your life in the hands of a stranger after your shift? Let us know your thoughts by leaving your opinions and questions in the comment section.
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