Coal Dock Operator

A coal dock operator has a difficult, dangerous job — it's one of the many railroad occupations that carry significant risks. Although coal dock operators are trained and fully aware of the potential for accidents, sometimes a railroad employer has not implemented adequate safety precautions, or unpredictable events result in an injury or even a fatality.

In Charge of the Coal Loading

Coal dock operators are in charge of the loading of coal onto a train, and similar jobs exist for newer, non-coal-fueled trains. As with essentially all railroad jobs, the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) protects coal dock operators who are injured or killed on the job and those who suffer from illnesses produced by their job conditions.

One of Many Railroad Occupations

According to the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, there were 233,800 active railroad employees and 275,100 retired railroad employees in the U.S. in 2008. "Coal dock operator" is just one of many possible railroad occupations — others include:

  • baggage handler
  • boilermaker
  • boilerman
  • brakeman
  • conductor
  • electrician
  • engine watchman
  • engine wiper
  • engineer
  • hostler
  • joiner
  • journeyman engineer
  • laborer
  • machinist
  • mechanic
  • porter
  • pullman porter
  • road fireman
  • section gang worker
  • shunter
  • station master
  • stoker
  • switch-engine engineer
  • switch-engine fireman
  • switchman
  • ticket agent

Protecting the Rights of Railroad Employees

The Federal Employers Liability Act was created to protect the men and women who work in these professions. Before FELA was implemented in the early 1900s, railroad employees had few or no means to obtain compensation from their employers when they were injured or made ill due to their railroad work.

In fact, conditions at railroads were generally appalling in those days. As a U.S. Supreme Court justice noted at the time, the odds against a railroad brakeman dying a natural death (as opposed to being killed on the job) were nearly four to one, and railroad companies nearly always fought paying out any compensation or benefits to injured workers or the surviving family members.

Discuss Your Case with a FELA Attorney

FELA has helped thousands of railroad workers get the compensation they deserve. Whether you are a coal dock operator or another railroad employee, you have legal rights under FELA when you are injured or become ill due to your job. The best step to take when you feel that you may have a FELA-related case is to contact a railroad lawyer and schedule a free consultation with a law firm or solo attorney that handles FELA cases.