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Category Archives: Railroad Safety

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Video Interview: Discussing the landscape of rail safety with LXBN TV

Posted in Railroad Accidents, Railroad Safety
Responding to my recent post  about Metro North Railroad’s Spuyten Duyvil train derailment, Colin O’Keefe of LXBN interviewed me regarding the culture of rail safety on our nations railroads, and the external and internal factors that make it so subpar.  Rail employees are the eyes and ears of safety on the property, but recently Congress and OSHA’s Whistleblower Directorate have confirmed a… Continue Reading

How To Disqualify Unsafe Rail Managers

Posted in Federal Employers Liability Act, Federal Rail Safety Act, Railroad Safety
Are you fed up with rail managers who habitually ignore safety rules and regulations, and then blame the workers who get hurt as a result of management’s unsafe practices? Now you can do something about it. Here’s how to disqualify such managers from ever working in the railroad industry again. There is a little known… Continue Reading

How The FRSA Overrides Valid Reasons For Discipline

Posted in Federal Employers Liability Act, Federal Rail Safety Act, Railroad Injuries, Railroad Safety
Strange as it sounds, a railroad manager can have a valid reason for taking disciplinary action against an employee and still be in violation of the FRSA. How? Because the employee’s protected activity in reporting an injury,raising a safety concern, or following a treating doctor’s orders was a “contributing factor” to the action. The FRSA requires that an… Continue Reading

FRA’s Final Rule on Cell Phones

Posted in Railroad Safety
For those of you interested in the Federal Rail Administration’s Final Rule on the use of cell phones and other electronic devices, here it is.  The Rule is that railroad operating employees can "not use an electronic device if that use would interfere with the employee’s or another railroad operating employee’s performance of safety-related duties." However,… Continue Reading

New Law Protects Subway Workers From Whistleblower Retaliation

Posted in Railroad Safety
In response to last summer’s fatal Metro subway crash in Washington DC, Congress now is proposing to extend federal rail safety standards to subway and light-rail lines currently “regulated” by understaffed local safety personnel wielding toothless rules. See NY Times Editorial. This would be a great step forward in ensuring the safety of the commuting… Continue Reading

OSHA Orders $7.9 Million In Whistleblower Damages

Posted in Federal Rail Safety Act, Railroad OSHA Whistleblower, Railroad Safety
  Need more proof that retaliation doesn’t pay? Check out this scenario. Workers raise safety concerns with their carrier and OSHA. Carrier files a defamation lawsuit against the workers. Workers file Whistleblower complaint with OSHA. OSHA investigation finds lawsuit was in retaliation for the workers’ protected activity, and PRESTO! the carrier has to pay $7.8… Continue Reading

Whistleblowers, Your Time Has Come!

Posted in Federal Rail Safety Act, Railroad OSHA Whistleblower, Railroad Safety
Looks like the Federal Railroad Safety Act  is just the beginning of a new wave of whistleblower protection statutes. The combination of a whistleblower friendly Obama Administration and the worst breakdown of financial regulation in decades is sure to result in a major expansion of whistleblower protection laws, and the legal press is taking notice. In… Continue Reading

FRSA’s Sharp Teeth Starting To Bite Railroads

Posted in Federal Rail Safety Act, Rail Labor, Railroad OSHA Whistleblower, Railroad Safety
Talk about leveling the playing field. OSHA’s FRSA Whistleblowers have sent another powerful message to rail management: sorry guys, but the days of business as usual are officially over. Supervisors are no longer free to retaliate at will against employees who raise safety concerns. It all started when a Union Pacific Railroad Company welder performing… Continue Reading

New Regulations For Railroad Security To Kick In

Posted in Federal Rail Safety Act, Railroad Safety
  I feel safer already. The Department of Homeland Security, through its Transportation Security Administration (TSA), has finally gotten around to promulgating new regulations strengthening security on passenger and freight railroads. The new regulations were to go into effect December 26, 2008, but the railroads successfully petitioned for a delay until April 1, 2009. The… Continue Reading

The Real Meaning of Election of Remedies Under the FRSA

Posted in Rail Labor, Railroad OSHA Whistleblower, Railroad Safety
  The coalition of unions on Metro-North Railroad, the Metro-North Labor Council, recently met with the top administrators and whistleblower investigators from OSHA’s Regions 1 and Region 2. Every craft on the Railroad was represented by at least one rail labor official. The spokesman for OSHA was Region 2 Supervisory Investigator Michael Mabee. It was… Continue Reading

New FRSA Amendment Protecting Medical Treatment Alters the Balance of Power

Posted in Railroad OSHA Whistleblower, Railroad Safety
 The FRSA (Federal Railroad Safety Act, 49 USC 20109) just keeps getting better and better. The FRSA is now amended to provide that: A railroad may not deny, delay, or interfere with the medical treatment of an employee who is injured during the course of employment. In particular, a railroad may not discipline or threaten… Continue Reading

The Inside Story on the FRSA’s First Punitive Damages Order

Posted in Railroad OSHA Whistleblower, Railroad Safety
Last month, the first reported Order imposing punitive damages against a railroad for violating the FRSA anti-retaliation law came to light. It concerned retaliatory conduct by Amtrak in Seattle, but the OSHA Whistleblower Office Press Release announcing the Order provided few details about what actually happened. Well, my curiosity was piqued. I managed to get… Continue Reading