Are Railroads Required to Obey OSHA?

In specific situations, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has jurisdiction over health and safety issues in railroad workplaces. Starting in 1978, the Federal Railroad Administration has acknowledged that OSHA’s proficiency in job site safety pertains to the railway industry. 

What government agency is in charge of railroad safety requirements?

The Virginia railroad injury lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have been advocating for the safety and well-being of all railroad workers. If you were injured in the course and scope of your employment due to a safety violation, we can help you pursue the financial compensation you need and deserve. 

What is OSHA?

As a federal agency operating within the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is responsible for securing healthy and safe working environments for employees. Using its authority, OSHA designated guidelines and rules that specified the lowest requirements for health and safety in the workplace. Working conditions on a railroad, however, are controlled by another government agency called the Federal Railroad Administration. Like OSHA, the Federal Railroad Administration has issued specific rules designed to facilitate the safety of railways and railway workers. These rules include criteria for proper track maintenance, train operations, and car and locomotive maintenance. If a railway employer’s violation of any of these criteria results in injury to a worker,  they could be held strictly liable for any losses related to the injury according to the Federal Employers’ Liability Act. However, this does not mean that railways are not expected to comply with OSHA regulations. Rather, OSHA’s jurisdiction stretches to specific elements of train operations that are not expressly regulated by the FRA.

When do OSHA Regulations Apply to a Railway?

While the FRA has regulatory control over railway safety, it has chosen not to provide rules for some railway operations, such as most work that takes place inside maintenance facilities and railway repair shops. In the event that the FRA has not set forth written benchmarks, or otherwise exerted its control over a specific duty or activity, a corresponding OSHA benchmark will, in most instances, be applied and enforced. 

For instance, there is an OSHA regulation that requires stairs inside of work facilities to have uniform tread depths and riser heights between each landing. The FRA has issued no such requirement. In this example, OSHA’s regulation would then be enforceable. So, health and safety conditions within the railroad workplace will almost always be controlled by either OSHA or FRA, based on which of the two agencies has exerted their authority to govern the condition.

Will an OSHA Violation Affect My Claim?

In order for a FELA claim to be successful, a worker must have proof that the railway’s negligence contributed to or caused their injury. When an FRA violation leads to an injury, the burden of proof is automatically satisfied. This legal theory is called negligence per se. Unlike an FRA violation, most courts maintain that an OSHA violation does not necessarily give rise to negligence per se but it can be acknowledged as proof of the railway’s negligence and impact the outcome of a case. This is just one reason why it is vital to speak with a qualified railroad injury lawyer who is capable of identifying these and other legal nuances if you are hurt on the job.  

Consult an Experienced FELA Attorney Today

The railroad worker injury lawyers at the law firm of Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have earned numerous successful resolutions to claims against large railroads under the Federal Employers Liability Act. Call our Virginia Beach law offices at (833) 997-1774 to schedule your free case review and learn how we can help you pursue the damages you are entitled to. 

Related Content


Tags: , , ,