Cumulative Trauma and Repetitive Stress

What is cumulative trauma?  Unlike workers who sustain acute injuries from a single occurrence, many long-time railroad workers suffer serious injuries through cumulative trauma or repetitive stress. While these injuries can take years to develop, the railroad industry is well aware of the stresses and dangers of these injuries. Unfortunately, the railroad industry is well aware of the conditions and equipment that lead to these injuries, but instead of putting protections in place or making changes to their procedures or equipment, they instead focus on cutting cost and ignore the human cost of doing business. Meanwhile, railroad workers are typically unaware that poor equipment or work practices are slowly causing debilitating injuries. Often, when the victim becomes aware of his symptoms it is too late to prevent permanent or even career ending injuries.

Typical examples of these injuries include whole body vibration (WBV) injuries, which describe human exposure to forces such as shocks, jolts, lateral sway and vertical bouncing that are transmitted to the body through the feet and the buttocks. Conductors, locomotive engineers and trainmen, are all exposed to WBV. This comes in the form of jolts and shocks that happen routinely in train operations, but accumulate trauma to the body because of the constant exposure every day over years. Locomotive cabs are subject to the immense forces needed to move the millions of pounds of steel and freight in every train. As many workers are now unfortunately aware, the locomotive cab seats that the railroad industry used for decades were poorly selected and have led to thousands of cumulative trauma injuries. Worse yet, the railroad industry knew of these dangers for decades and did nothing. Poorly maintained and rough-riding track conditions in many areas only served to worsen the impact of railroad carriers’ deliberate disregard for the whole body vibration injuries it knew it was causing (and knew how to prevent).

If you have a cumulative trauma or repetitive stress injury you should strongly consider contacting a railroad attorney that can help you determine if you have a claim under the FELA and how to pursue one. All such consultations are free with the Bolt Hoffer Boyd Law Firm.