Cumulative Trauma Injuries to the Shoulders in Switchmen

Cumulative trauma injuries to the shoulders in switchmen — a particular job among railroad workers — are not uncommon. The jobs known as "signal men" or "switch pullers" also carry the risk of cumulative trauma, and switchmen (or women) who spend their days operating switches have a high likelihood of developing shoulder injuries such as:

  • Dislocated shoulder: At the socket joint, the humerus (upper arm bone) separates from the scapula (the "wing bone"). Partial dislocation is called "subluxation."
  • Frozen shoulder syndrome: The development of scar tissue in the shoulder hurts, and it impairs movement.
  • Rotator cuff tears: The "cuff" of tendon and muscle at top of the upper arm bone gets torn by repetitive stress (or by an acute injury).
  • Shoulder impingement syndrome: when the shoulder/arm is raised, the inflammation of the rotator cuff causes constant pain.

The Shoulder Joint Is Vulnerable

The shoulder joint has the greatest range of motion of all of the body's joints, but this makes the shoulder particularly vulnerable to cumulative trauma injuries. And switchmen are certainly prone to shoulder injuries, since they spend their time repeatedly operating switches, perhaps lifting heavy objects, climbing ladders and climbing up and down from trains.

Whenever a job requires a worker to move in the same way, over and over and over, the repetitive stress can damage the worker's joints, tendons, muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels. Since railroad jobs are often repetitive yet difficult, challenging and dangerous, the risk of incurring a cumulative trauma injury on the job is quite high.

FELA Lawsuits for Shoulder Injuries

A cumulative trauma injury to a shoulder can be very painful, very troublesome and very frustrating. Treatment options include pain medication, surgery and physical rehabilitation, but the costs of treatment plus the cost of missing work can become overwhelming.

Many FELA lawsuits have been brought based on cumulative trauma injuries to the shoulder in switchmen and other railroad workers. The compensation gained in a FELA lawsuit is intended to cover a railroad worker's monetary losses. To find out if you have a claim, contact our FELA lawyers today.