A man working in St. Paul, Minnesota (MN), rail yard suffered fatal injuries when he got trapped and crushed between two rail cars just after midnight of March 27, 2016. The switching yard, located off Childs Road along the eastern shore of the Mississippi River, services Canadian Pacific trains and is a central location for engineers, conductors and brakemen to detrain and rest between assignments.
The railroad worker reportedly survived the impact but later succumbed to his injuries at a hospital. Details on why the man was on the tracks between moving rail cars were not released. The rail corporation has announced that it opened an investigation into the deadly incident.
As FELA attorneys based in Virginia who have helped injured, ill and deceased railroad workers for Norfolk Southern, CSX and all across the United States, my personal injury and wrongful death law firm colleagues and I know that rail yards are among the most dangerous workplaces. A switching yard like the one in St. Paul provides more dangers than most, as locomotives and cars are likely to always be in motion somewhere, and crew members will be regularly walking across live tracks. Precise scheduling, constant multiparty communication and an extensive system of fully functioning warning lights and alarms are essential to avoid tragedies.
Obviously, some mechanism failed or some procedure was poorly implemented. Absent an error, no accident would have occurred. Identifying the problem and taking every possible measure to ensure it does not recur must be the top priority for Canadian Pacific executives and managers. The company representatives must also share their findings and solutions with other railroads to protect all rail employees.