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Toxic Hazards for Railroad Workers

The Department of Transportation reports that there are more than 240,000 tank cars in the North American railroad car fleet, which represents more than 18 percent of the fleet. Rail shipment of hazardous materials accounts for 18 percent of all hazardous materials shipped. This means that about 1.7 million rail cars of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) are transported in the United States annually. Included are those gases and liquids classified as "toxic inhalation hazards" (TIH). This class of materials includes chemicals such as chlorine and anhydrous ammonia, both of which are very dangerous if released.

The Federal Railroad Administration reports that in the year 2000, 725 of the reported railroad accidents involved trains transporting hazardous materials. Out of 6,942 cars in those trains that contained hazardous materials, 979 of the cars were damaged and 75 cars released toxic materials. This resulted in 5,251 people being evacuated. One fatality (a result of the accident), 82 injuries and over $26 million in property damage were reported. Therefore, even with the great safety improvements made to tank cars in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, hazardous materials are still released during accidents. These dangerous substances are also released in non-accident incidents. The US Department of Transportation Research and Special Programs Administration’s (RSPA) database shows 711 serious incidents involving rail shipment of HAZMAT in 2000.

FELA Injury Attorney for Hazardous Toxic Accidents

These statistics are especially troubling for railroad workers suffering from injuries and diseases related to hazardous materials. Workers can be exposed during the loading and unloading of rail cars and during transport as well. Spillage and leakage of these materials from rail cars can cause exposure from direct contact, and from indirect contact when these toxic materials collect on the ground or saturate the air in the workplace.

Whether you have been injured from falling equipment or you have developed a disease from many years of toxic exposure, there can be no argument about the wrongs that have been done to you. Rather than writing off these ailments as misfortunes, consider them wrongful accidents to which you can take legal action.

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