Two conferences were recently held on “The Future of Railroads: Safety, Workers, Community, and Environment.” Railroad workers, oil workers and others discussed how to best protect workers and the general public. The conferences were sponsored by Railroad Workers United and the Backbone Campaign.
Railroad Workers United (RWU) features union workers from various railroads uniting to challenge the imposition of a one-person crew by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway. Many rail workers strongly opposed the BNSF proposal for one-person crews. Why? Because the around-the-clock, safety-sensitive nature of railroad operations makes single-employee train crews a higher safety risk to other railroad workers and conceivably to the general public, according to RWU’s web site.
Of course, BNSF is trying to implement a one-person crew despite the fact that the Federal Railway Administration recommended that a minimum crew size of at least two workers is essential for safe operation of “through freight” trains. All active railroaders realize that RCO operations have increased the safety risks while railroad workers traverse and work through rail yards. The recent car inspector death at Acca Yard in Richmond arose from RCO operations.
As lawyers who regularly represent railroaders injured in serious accidents, we believe that safety must be a paramount priority for all of the major railroad companies, including BNSF. The one-person crew proposal will definitely save BNSF and railroads money, but at what cost to lives, safety and the public?
To learn more about RWU and its campaign to stop the one-person crew proposal, check out their website: railroadworkersunited.org.
Richard N. Shapiro, Railroad Injury Attorney
E-mail: RSh[email protected]
Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan Law Firm
VA & NC Offices