There are a myriad of negative health effects associated with prolonged exposure to diesel exhaust fumes. However, recent studies indicate a correlation to diesel exhaust and bladder cancer in men who've had occupational exposure to the fumes. Lung cancer has also been shown to be connected.
The Clean Air Task Force released a study in 2008 showing a 13 percent increase in risk associated with bladder cancer and exposure to diesel exhaust. There was a positive association in 10 out of 12 studies conducted.
The studies focused on railroad workers (like those working for the Virginia-based Norfolk Southern), truckers, mine workers, dock workers, and any other group of workers who have regular exposure to diesel exhaust.
Over one million workers are exposed to diesel exhaust and face the risk of adverse health effects, ranging from asthma, headaches and nausea to cancer and respiratory disease, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).
As an injury lawyer who regularly represents workers adversely affected by exposure to toxic chemicals, I am greatly concerned about the safety of hard-working Americans who could suffer long-term health problems due to their work environment.
Unfortunately, many companies have dragged their feet in offering solutions to this problem. This isn't surprising since many companies value the bottom line over the safety of their employees and diesel remains a cost-effective, abundant source of fuel.
Nevertheless, something needs to be done to help these employees. OSHA published some helpful suggestions for mine workers. My colleague, Rick Shapiro, wrote about four different methods to reduce occupational exposure to diesel exhaust fumes for railroad workers:
1.) Engineer controls should be implemented such as isolation areas, appropriate shelters for employees, or actual engineering changes to equipment which subject workers to diesel exhaust fumes. This could include changing diesel exhaust stacks on engines to assure fumes do not trail into locomotive engine cabs, providing air conditioning and/or pressurize and seal engine cabs so fumes will not enter the cabs through openings.
2.) Implement administrative controls and rotate a railroad worker in-and-out of a particular job so exposure to the worker to excessive diesel exhaust.
3.) Change work practice controls, which means choosing the manner of doing a particular job so as to minimize exposure to diesel exhaust hazards.
4.) Mandate personal protective equipment such as masks or respirators or other similar protective equipment. All of these principles are typical industrial health and safety controls, not only in the railroad industry, but for general industry.
About the Editors: Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan personal injury law firm is based in Virginia (VA), near the NE North Carolina (NC) border and handles car, truck, railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. Order one of our FREE e-books discussing railroad issues. Our injury attorneys host an extensive injury law video library on Youtube . In addition, our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono public information service. Lawyers licensed in: VA, NC, SC, WV, DC, KY.