Employer Responsibility Under FELA

When the Congress passed the Federal Employers Liability Act or FELA to protect railroad workers all over the country and it does not only established a system where the injured workers may receive legal compensation for the injuries they sustained and it gives the railroad companies and employers with uniform liability standards for working conditions and employee safe work environment all the time and in all situations. Here is a short review of the railroad/employer’s particular responsibilities under the FELA:

Unsafe Conditions and Hazards

In giving its employees with a reasonably safe workplace, under FELA, the railroad company has the responsibility to:

  • Warn the employees of any unsafe conditions and hazards, even in conditions where the workers himself/herself should know of the hazard or danger;
  • Check the workplace to ensure that it is free of known and unknown dangers; it means that when there is a hazard or defective equipment that caused the injury to the worker and the condition could have been learned by the employer by a reasonable inspection, the employer is responsible under FELA;
  • Make sure that the workplace is reasonably free from unsafe conditions and safety hazards; this responsibility includes the provision and maintenance of equipment and tools, sufficient safety devices.

Training, Supervision, and Safety Regulations

With FELA, the railroad companies and employers must ensure that their workers are reasonably equipped and can perform their assigned tasks, and this responsibility includes:

  • All job activities and work conditions are sufficiently supervised so that any injury to workers is prevented. The duty to check for any hazards usually comes into play only when a railroad worker is injured based on the failure to give enough supervision;
  • All needed training is given to each worker relevant to their job responsibilities. Each worker must have the relevant experience and training to perform their assigned work safely; and
  • Any company job safety regulations are established and adhered to. It means that apart from the responsibility to comply with the federal safety standards, the railroad company must follow and enforce its own workplace policies and regulations. When the company fails to do so, it may be held accountable under FELA.

Under FELA, the railroad company or employer has the duty to:

  • Prevent the implementation or application of unreasonable work quotas in terms of time or production;
  • Give its workers enough assistance in situations where a particular task is beyond the worker’s physical limitations and capabilities; and
  • Take reasonable measures to keep the workers safe from intentional acts by other workers or third parties like crimes and intentional torts.

This list of employers’ responsibilities to railroad workers under FELA and these are not exclusive. You can contact an experienced lawyer to ensure that your rights to compensation are completely protected.

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