We regularly speak to workers who describe the black gunk blown from their noses after each shift, the blackened washcloths used to wipe off their faces, necks and hands, the smell of diesel in their hair and one worker in a particularly bad locomotive shop, kind of chuckled and said “Hell, we’d eat our lunches in the shop and the damn sandwiches would taste like diesel.”
Locomotive crews are often subjected to chronic diesel exposures.
No matter the craft, railroad employees are exposed to diesel exhaust. Traditionally, locomotive machinists, electricians and pipefitters working in improperly ventilated shops where locomotives were left running suffered some of the worst exposures. Railroad car department employees who work in car shops with diesel powered equipment and along trains during inspections aren’t too far behind. Obviously the locomotive crews – engineers, brakemen and conductors – breath diesel exhaust that comes in through the windows, walls, panels and floors. How many of you regularly used duct tape in a hopeless attempt to keep the diesel fumes out of the locomotive cabs? Track department employees work alongside and operate diesel-powered equipment. Even the gate-checkers and clerical workers suffer regular diesel exposures when they’re working in the yard.
Railroads Failed to Warn Their Workers that Diesel Exhaust Causes Cancer
But despite knowing that railroad workers are constantly at risk, railroad companies have neglected to warn their employees about these risks or properly monitor diesel exhaust levels in the workplace. Instead of installing better exhaust systems in their shops, using cleaner fuels or newer locomotives, railroads often downplay the harmful risks associated with carcinogen exposure so they do not have to spend the money to improve the safety of their employees’ work conditions.
Railroad Emphasize Profits Over Worker Safety:
Union Pacific Railroad reported net income of $4.2 billion in 2016. BNSF netted $4.16 billion. Those are profit numbers, not total revenue. Think about those profits when your boss tells you that there isn’t money in the budget for breathing protection. Think about those profits when you’re operating a smoke-filled yard switcher from 1976. The fact of the matter is that “Occupational Injury/Cancer Lawsuits” are a line item in the railroads’ actuarial tables and as long as those payouts don’t impact their profits, railroads will continue to take their head in the sand approach to safety. Railroads will continue to expose their employees to toxins like diesel exhaust and benzene and railroad employees will continue to be diagnosed – at alarming rates – with deadly occupational diseases like lung cancer, stomach cancer, kidney cancer, multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukemia.
If you are a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer or leukemia and you believe it could be a result of diesel exhaust exposures, you may be in need of a railroad cancer lawyer. Railroad employees are entitled to compensation under the Federal Employers Liability Act, which is a unique body of law that requires experienced counsel. Contact Hughes Law Offices today to discuss your individual case with a knowledgeable railroad cancer lawyer. After a thorough intake, we will consult with leading oncologists, industrial hygienists and epidemiologists to determine if your cancer was caused by your unique workplace exposures. Call 312-877-5588 now.