Danger in Railroads: Safety Rules Around Tracks Include These 3 Surprising Hazards
Working on the railroad is dangerous. According to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Safety Analysis, there were more than 3,800 injuries to employees on duty in 2019. These injuries resulted in workers being absent from work anywhere from zero to more than 300 days.
Collisions, derailments and machinery malfunctions are the obvious threat to rail workers, but many of the 3,856 injuries are caused by things a worker may not be expecting, such as being struck by an object, loud noises and heat stress. Railroad safety gear can help protect your teams from these 3 lesser-known hazards.
Obstructed Line of Sight
Struck by object injuries involve a worker being hit by any piece of equipment or object that is falling, swinging or rolling. These injuries--as well as slips, trips and falls--are two of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s “fatal four” hazards. Both often occur because the worker’s line of sight was obstructed.
Having the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is vital to protecting your body if you are struck by an object or if you fall. However, not falling or being struck at all is the ultimate goal.
To avoid both of these injuries, it’s important that your peripheral vision is not obstructed. There are jackets and hoods that don’t give you a clear view of everything around you, so when choosing your head protection and clothing, look for types that protect yet don’t block your line of sight.
ORR Safety offers the XP High Visibility Class 3 Bomber Jacket. This popular jacket was designed specifically to give workers extra visibility on the job site by offering a peripheral vision hood with crescent-cut sides.
Exposure to Loud Noises
The human ear is complex and delicate, and failure to properly protect them can lead to irreversible hearing loss. The inability to hear well can be an obstacle to communication and social interaction and contribute to a decreased quality of life.
According to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NOISH), the established recommended exposure limit for occupational noises is 85 decibels, A-weighted as an eight-hour time weighted average. They consider exposures at or above this level hazardous.
Railroad employees who work on or near the tracks are exposed to prolonged noise at these levels. Jobs that involve working with or near track maintenance equipment or railroad construction equipment are just a few examples of jobs with prolonged noise exposures.
Hearing protection should always be worn by these workers, it’s just a matter of finding the right type for your job. Some of the most effective for the railroad are ORR’s Triple Flange Corded Earplugs – NRR 27 and Honeywell’s Howard Leight Viking™ V3 Earmuff.
High temperatures and heavy workloads put workers at risk for developing heat stress during long hot summer months. Outdoor activities performed by track gangs, tie gangs and bridge crews, often require employees to work in direct sunlight underneath layers of bulky protective clothing and equipment. Without a proper way to get rid of excess heat, the body stores it, resulting in heat rash, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, in 2018, nearly 4% of all injuries within the rail transportation industry were caused by exposure to harmful substances or environments.
Click Here to Learn More About Staying Cool On the Job
ORR Safety offers different solutions to fight against the heat, such as the Ergodyne SHAX® 6000 heavy-duty commercial pop-up tent, Bullard cooling vest Sqwincher® hydration products, ORR Arctic Radwear® cooling headband and more.