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Steven M. Lee, PC

Work on a Train? Look Out For These Common Causes of Derailments


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7/7/2014
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Working in the railroad industry can be incredibly rewarding, but also dangerous at times. Even if you hold a job that does not involve serious physical labor along the railroads, there is still the potential for an on-the-job accident to occur.

A recent workplace accident that made the news involved a former "Survivor" contestant named Caleb Bankston. Bankston was a conductor on the Alabama Warrior Railway and was working on a coal train near Birmingham, Alabama when his accident occurred. He was allegedly checking on something in the small space between two of the cars when the train derailed. The rear car slammed into the forward car and Bankston was crushed in between. The Federal Railroad Administration is conducting a separate investigation from the railway company's safety office since it was classified as an industrial accident.

Though we do not currently know what caused Bankston's train derailment, we do know what some common causes of derailments are that railroad workers need to look out for:

  • Broken rails or welds
  • Human error, including improper use of switches and violation of switching rules
  • Axle and journal defects
  • Bearing failure
  • Track geometry
  • Broken wheels
  • Obstructions

You may not be able to control some of the more complicated mechanical defects, but if you are in charge of operating the train, you can certainly try to avoid the human error component of these derailments. Just like any driver on the road, avoid all forms of distracted driving—including texting, eating, and talking on your cell phone. Also, do not operate a train if you are suffering from fatigue in any way.

Do you know someone who works in the railroad industry? Be sure to share this article with them via e-mail or Facebook so they are aware of the dangers they may face on the job.



Category: Construction, Refinery, Industrial, On the Job Injuries and Workers' Comp

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