An elevated train accident in Center City Philadelphia on August 11, 2014, highlights the dangers faced by rail maintenance personnel working on tracks being actively used.
News reports indicate that a light-rail trolley struck a construction worker doing repair work on the ceiling of a tunnel below 22nd Street. The trolley generally runs above ground, but it goes underground to run alongside Market-Frankford Line subway trains in the western part of the city. The injured person was transported a nearby hospital, but information on the seriousness of the transit employee’s injuries were not released to the public.
As a Virginia-based personal injury attorney who specializes in representing railroad workers who get hurt on the job, I know that individuals who repair and maintain tracks have little protection from moving trains. In addition to dealing with the risk faced by most construction and heavy equipment worker such as unsecured materials, people who keep rail beds and tunnels in proper working order often operate within inches of vehicles weighing hundreds of tons that are traveling at highway speeds. Train operators and railroad companies have high duties to protect the physical health and lives of track workers.
I wish the injured SEPTA employee a full and speedy recovery. I also know that transit workers are covered by many of the same laws I rely upon to ensure employees for heavy rail companies like CSX and Norfolk Southern receive adequate compensation for workplace injuries. This means that should the Philadelphia metro system deny proper care and coverage, the injured construction worker has legal recourses to hold the employer accountable.