toxic chemicals in the railroad industry

The Dangers of Toxic Chemical Exposure in the Railroad Industry

Toxic chemicals play a pivotal role in the US economy. Substances that are toxic and infectious are used regularly across a wide range of industries. Many of these hazardous substances are transported across the country by rail, and if they are not handled properly, there is a major risk that workers in the railroad industry may become overly exposed to them.

Some railroad workers experience toxic chemical exposure as a result of a work-related accident, while many others develop occupational diseases that are caused by ongoing exposure to toxic substances over an extended period of time. When an employer in the railroad industry fails to take the proper steps to keep workers safe and it results in an occupational disease, the railroad worker may be entitled to significant compensation under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA).

If you or a loved one is in this situation, you need strong legal counsel in your corner advocating aggressively for your legal rights and interests. FELA claims allow railroad workers to recover damages over and above what would be available to employees in other industries through a workers’ compensation claim; but on the flipside, FELA claims are more difficult to win because you must prove liability on the part of your employer or an outside party.

For FELA claims in Alabama and nearby states, contact Burge & Burge today at 205-251-9000 for a free consultation and case assessment. Our attorneys have extensive experience successfully handling these types of cases, and we will work hard to get you the full and fair compensation you deserve.

Risks of Toxic Chemical Exposure to Railroad Workers

Workers in the railroad industry face a variety of occupational risks because of exposure to a large number of different toxins and carcinogens within their work environment. As we touched on earlier, this is largely due to various chemicals and industrial raw materials that are transported by rail. These include:

  • Explosives
  • Acids and corrosives
  • Petrochemicals (such as liquefied petroleum gasoline)
  • Heavy metals
  • Substances that pose toxic inhalation hazards

Railroad workers may be exposed to numerous hazardous substances that are contained within the rail cargo, such as:

  • Lead
  • Asbestos
  • Xylene
  • Sodium Borate
  • Sodium Nitrate
  • Trichloroethene
  • Ethyl Benzene
  • Methylene and Vinyl Chloride
  • Chrysene
  • Dichlorobenzene
  • Naphthalene
  • Creosote
  • Toluene

Rail cargo is not the only place where railroad industry workers run the risk of toxic chemical exposure, there are also various types of hazardous materials that are regularly dumped in rail yards. These include:

  • Lead and other heavy metals
  • Asbestos
  • Locomotive coolant
  • Hydraulic fluid and brake fluid
  • Paint thinners
  • Industrial grade solvents
  • Corrosive substances from batteries
  • Diesel fuel

Common Occupational Illnesses in the Railroad Industry

Over the years, toxic chemical exposure has given rise to a number of different occupational diseases that are commonly associated with railroad workers, including:

  • Lead Poisoning: Millions of American workers are exposed to unsafe levels of lead every year, and many of them work in the rail industry. Excessive lead exposure that results in poisoning can cause heart problems, high blood pressure, various renal diseases, reproductive problems, and damage to the nervous system.
  • Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is almost always caused by ongoing exposure to asbestos or the dust particles that are derived from this substance. It can take years for the symptoms of mesothelioma to show up, but once they do, the prognosis for those who suffer from this disease are very grim.
  • Asbestosis: Another disease that is developed over time from prolonged exposure to asbestos is known as asbestosis. Asbestosis is a lung disease for which there is no known cure, and this condition is characterized by chronic cough, chest pains, shortness of breath, and clubbed fingers. Lung fluid thinners and oxygen are some of the ways that asbestosis is treated, and in extreme cases, the patient may require a lung transplant.
  • Lung Cancer: A number of the substances that railroad workers commonly inhale can cause lung cancer. These may include inhalation of silica dust, diesel fumes, and various types of petroleum-based substances and chemical solvents. Lung cancer is among the deadliest forms of cancer, claiming more lives each year than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. As with other deadly conditions, early detection and treatment is absolutely critical in order to successfully fight this disease.
  • Leukemia: Railroad workers who are frequently exposed to high levels of benzene are at greater risk of contracting leukemia and various other types of illnesses, particularly those that diminish the immune system. Leukemia is a blood or bone marrow cancer that results from an increase in white blood cells.

Contact an Experienced Alabama FELA Claims Lawyer

If you are a railroad worker or a family member of someone who works in the industry that has contracted an occupational illness, it is very important to understand your legal rights and options; not only so you can recover the maximum compensation you deserve, but also to ensure that those responsible for hazardous chemical exposure are held fully accountable.

To get started on your FELA claim in Alabama, contact Burge & Burge today by calling 205-251-9000 or sending us an online message. We look forward to serving you!

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