OSHA Fines Railroad Car Maker

October 25, 2005

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued fines against a New York manufacturer and refurbisher of railroad cars. Alstom Transportation Inc. is facing fines totaling $130,500 for 17 counts of intentional and serious violations of government standards for workplace safety and health. As the name would suggest, OSHA is the government agency responsible for developing occupational health and safety standards. While employers have the responsibility to see that these standards are met, OSHA plays an integral role in ensuring these standards of health and safety are reached in the workplace.

The railroad industry is a particularly dangerous occupational field. The leaders of our nation, having long recognized the inherent danger in railroad work, passed the FELA or Federal Employer's Liability Act back in 1906 to protect injured railroad workers and encourage industry safety. This federal law allows an injured railroad worker to sue their employer for damages as a result of negligence or wrongdoing.

In addition to the FELA protection extended to railroad workers, the OSHA also monitors the railroad industry to ensure that safety and health standards are met. The OSHA inspection of the Alstom Transportation Inc. was prompted by the agency's program to investigate workplace standards in industries with a higher-than-average injury and illness rate.

As a result of their investigation, OSHA issued one willful citation to Alstom, involving $99,000 in fines, for large overhead crane workplace hazards. One employee at this company was required to climb over a crane wheel to reach the crane cab, thus exposing him to possible falls of more than 45 feet. There were other willful violation citations issued to Alstom at this time. A willful violation is defined by OSHA as a company's blatant disregard or indifference to government-established safety and health standards.

Alstom Transportation has fifteen days to comply with the standards cited on these citations. The railroad company also has the option of requesting an informal hearing with OSHA regional officials. Their third option is to contest the citations before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, an independent agency.

For more information on FELA lawsuits, please contact us to confer with a personal injury lawyer.

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