The Hidden Hazards of Toxic Exposure on Railway Workers

Ever since the 1930s, prominent railway companies throughout the United States have, from time to time, come under scrutiny for toxic hazards commonly encountered around and in storage facilities, rail storage, rail yards, and other buildings that are used by most major railroads.  Unfortunately, railroad workers are not always aware of the diseases and toxic dangers they are exposed to while simply going about their duties.  

What can I do about the chronic illness I developed as a railroad worker?

Due to the nature of heavy industries, synch as shipbuilding, mining, and, of course, railroads, many of these places are, or once were contaminated with one or more chemicals known to be carcinogens. What’s even worse is that the majority of these big railway companies have not taken any action to address and protect their workers from the toxic dangers that have been proven to cause them serious harm. 

The Virginia railroad injury lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp are advocates for all railway employees. If you are or were a railway worker who was injured or contracted a work-related illness on the job, please call us today at (833) 997-1774 to schedule your free consultation.  

Chronic Illnesses Among Railway Workers

The Hidden Hazards of Toxic Exposure on Railway Workers

One of the leading illnesses that has adversely impacted several thousand railway workers is lung cancer caused by inhaling fumes from diesel exhaust. 

In November 2004, a study titled Lung Cancer in Railroad Workers Exposed to Diesel Exhaust was published by Environmental Health Perspectives. The report evaluated the rate of lung cancer mortality in 54,973 American railway workers from 1959 to 1996 and determined that exposed workers had a mortality rate of 1.4%.

Exposure to Silica 

Exposure to silica is another serious concern. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, researchers discovered that, due to occupational exposure, railroad track maintenance workers were vulnerable to a health hazard caused by their routine proximity to crystalline silica. Silica, a mineral found in the earth’s crust, is also a component in the clay and gravel products that are used as railway tie ballasts. The health hazards associated with exposure to silica include lung cancer, silicosis, kidney disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 

Exposure to Asbestos 

Asbestos is another naturally occurring mineral and known carcinogen that is commonly found around and in railroads. This is because it is heavily used for train gaskets, brake shoes, gears, clutch plates, and seals. When any of these parts are maintained or replaced, the asbestos fibers become airborne and, even in cases of short-term exposure, can penetrate the lungs and cause a fatal lung disease known as mesothelioma to develop. 

Exposure to Creosote 

Creosote exposure occurs when wooden ties are changed during routine railroad maintenance. Creosote, a chemical formed by the distillation of tar, is used to treat these wooden ties and act as a preservative. Direct contact with Creosote can result in serious burns, and, if it is inhaled, could cause significant liver, respiratory, and kidney problems.  

Exposure to Benzene 

There are several ways in which railway employees can be exposed to Benzene. The most common point of contact, however, comes from its use as a diesel fuel because workers breathe in the fumes.  Benzene, another known carcinogen, is used in the production of multiple products such as lubricants, plastics, drugs, rubber items, and pesticides.  

Exposure to Glyphosate 

Glyphosate spray, more commonly known as Roundup weed killer, has been used for the purposes of track vegetation management since the late 1970s. Glyphosate was sprayed over hundreds of thousands of miles of railroad tracks across the United States. Roundup has gained a lot of notoriety over the past few years and is currently facing an untold number of lawsuits due to its role in the development of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma.  

Despite the fact that both its employees and its profit margins number in the billions, these train companies have fallen appallingly short when it comes to taking even the most basic of preventive measures to ensure the safety of their workers. Sadly, most if not all of these occupational illnesses could have been avoided if railway companies and government officials would work to implement reasonable safety regulations.  

If you worked for the railroad in any capacity and have recently been diagnosed with any form of cancer, the Virginia railroad injury lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp are prepared to take action against the train company for endangering their most valuable asset: you. You can schedule a free consultation by calling our Virginia law offices at (833) 997-1774. 

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