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Train safety in doubt after fatal derailment in the Bronx

Each day, New Yorkers climb aboard commuter trains on their way to work. For some, the train and the tracks are their job sites. However, passenger and commuter trains pose serious risks to both passengers and workers. In fact, workplace injuries involving these machines are surprisingly not uncommon. The statistics of poor train safety in the state and throughout the country have some people asking if there is more that can be done to prevent injuries.

Discussions about train safety are common, especially after accidents like the fatal one that occurred in December. In that incident, a Metro-North train derailed in the Bronx, killing four passengers and injuring 85 other people on the train. Eight of the injured people were workers. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, the past 11 years have seen 2,259 accidents, some of which occurred with only employees on board.

Problems with the tracks are often the cause of these accidents. The FRA speculated that the Bronx accident was the result of a lack of maintenance, safety inspections and poor employee training. It seems passenger trains commonly travel on rails designed for freight trains, many of which are in a state of disrepair and not suitable for the high speeds of passenger trains. This creates an unsafe environment for employees of the railroad and passengers on the trains alike.

Employees who are injured on any job site need to understand their rights. Workers who are injured on the job are often entitled to workers' compensation to help them with their medical bills, physical therapy and loss of wages. Employers often contest workers’ compensation, so it is important for New York residents to understand their rights in order to pursue a positive outcome for their case.

Source: USA Today, "Safety records of commuter train lines show problems," Gary Stoller, March 28, 2014

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