Railroad professions such as stoker, boilerman, boilermaker and engine watchman are particularly vulnerable to on-the-job injuries, and FELA (the Federal Employers Liability Act) is an appropriate statute for regarding a claim for compensation and benefits due to an injured stoker/boilerman/boilermaker or engine watchman.
Working On Board: Stokers
For example, stokers are the railroad employees who tend to the fire (or fires) on a train, especially those that are coal-fueled. A stoker keeps the fire going, adding coal and prodding the fire when necessary to keep it alive. The term "stoker" is replaced by "fireman" on some train lines. Of course, coal fires and other fires always have an element of danger, and many stokers have been hurt or even killed on the job. The purpose of FELA and similar laws is to provide compensation for injured railroad employees, covering their medical expenses and replacing their lost income.
Accidents and Illnesses
In addition to unexpected accidents during the workday, a railroad employee may suffer an injury that takes a long time to incur. In many cases, a stoker (for example) who makes the same physical motions repeatedly as part of his job duties may incur a disabling condition such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Such repetitive-motion disorders and other long-onset medical problems (including illnesses) are also eligible for compensation under FELA, as long as they are caused by conditions at work.
Boilermen and Boilermakers
Boilermen and boilermakers are related; a boilermaker may work in a rail yard, assembling or repairing the boilers used on trains. A boilerman is usually the laborer who takes care of the operation of the train's boiler while the train is in transit. Here too, on-the-job injuries are not uncommon.
Engine watchmen are also among the railroad employees who may suffer an accident or illness due to their jobs. A seldom-mentioned risk of working on a railroad is exposure to toxic fumes, whether as part of the normal workday or when a train is derailed or in a collision. All of the railroad professions are vulnerable to severe injuries and illnesses, including the jobs such as:
- diesel mechanics
- freight car repairers
- locomotive engineers
- mechanical service operators
- rail car repairers
- rail yard engineers, dinkey operators, and hostlers
- railroad brake, signal, and switch operators
- railroad conductors and yardmasters
- rail-track laying and maintenance equipment operators
- signal and track switch repairers
- transit and railroad police
- work equipment mechanics
Thus, whether a man or woman works as part of the train crew (e.g., stoker, boilerman, and engine watchman) or in a rail yard (e.g., boilermaker, mechanic), the risk of severe injury and job-related illness is high. FELA was implemented in the "heyday" of the railroad industry's expansion, over 100 years ago, and this statute has helped protect the rights of all railroad workers since then.
Contact a FELA Attorney for More Information
If you've been injured or made ill by your job as a stoker, boilerman, boilermaker, engine watchman or any other railroad-related job, it's in your best interest to talk about your rights with a FELA attorney, today. Contact a railroad lawyer for more information.