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What are your employer's responsibilities under FELA?

Railroad employees face a greater risk of injury than workers in most other professions. This is why Congress enacted the  Federal Employers Liability Act  in 1908. The government provides this coverage to all railroad employees around the country because such workers are not covered by any state workers compensation laws.

This federal law requires railroad employers to provide a reasonably safe work environment at all times. Under FELA, railroad companies and employers must fulfill many non-delegable responsibilities in order to meet a uniform standard of employee safety and working conditions.

Your railroad employer must ensure that you have the necessary supervision, training and experience required to safely perform your duties. The railroad company must enforce its own company generated safety regulations, in addition to complying with a multitude of federal safety standards and various state law regulations. These include reasonable measures to keep you safe from the intentional actions of third parties or other employees.

In order to prevent injuries to subordinate employees, supervisors must inspect potentially hazardous working conditions and oversee all job activities. To the extent possible, the workplace must be free of safety hazards and unsafe conditions, and where correcting the unsafe condition is not possible, your employer must warn you and your fellow employees about it, even if you may already aware of the situation.

The law further requires that employees with physical limitations receive adequate assistance in order to perform their duties in situations where a specific task exceeds their abilities. Additionally, under FELA, employers must not implement unreasonable work quotas in order to increase production.

In order to obtain just compensation for injuries suffered on the job the employee must prove that the railroad employer was "negligent." There are exceptions to this rule, such as when certain other federal statutes are violated. In those situations the railroad can be held strictly liable, which means the employee does not have to prove negligence. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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