Cancer Risks For Railroad Workers

Railroad Workers Face High Cancer Risks from Asbestos and Benzene Exposure, Can Recover under Special FELA Law

Americans depend on the railroad system for the goods they use every day to a much greater extent than most realize.  Trains are on the move 24 hours a day, hauling everything from coal to cars.  The railroads, in turn, depend on their workers to keep them running at peak efficiency.  Unfortunately, in the course of doing that work, those railroad workers face higher exposure to cancer-causing substances than do workers in most other industries.  A significant part of that risk arises from exposure to benzene and asbestos, both well-known carcinogens.  Railroad workers are exposed to benzene in diesel fumes from locomotives and in degreasing solvents used by the railroads.  They often have been exposed to asbestos in insulating materials in older engines and in the lining of the brake shoes on locomotives and rail cars.  Unfortunately, many railroad workers and former railroad workers who develop bladder, colon, kidney, esophageal, lung, and nasopharyngeal cancers; blood cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma; or asbestosis or mesothelioma don’t realize that the illness is connected to benzene or asbestos exposure that occurred in the course of their employment.  That is why it is important to raise awareness of these risks.  To the extent a worker becomes ill as a result of exposure to benzene or asbestos while working for the railroad, he can look to a special statute passed over 100 years ago for relief.  The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) was passed by the United States Congress in 1908 to protect railroad workers who suffered from work-related injury or illness.  Although numerous attempts have been made to replace FELA with workers compensation, to date they have been unsuccessful.  FELA offers advantages over recovery under workers compensation laws, in that, under FELA the injured worker is entitled to have the claim tried by a jury and may recover for pain, suffering, and emotional distress, all of which are generally unavailable under workers compensation laws.  At Baggett McCall, we regularly try claims under FELA.  If you are a railroad worker or former railroad worker and have developed an illness that you think is related to your employment, come in and let us provide a free evaluation of your claim today!

 

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