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Railroad workers sue BNSF Railway for negligence

Railroad workers are among those who have very likely been exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos. Previously used to protect trains from the extreme heat generated during operation, asbestos was responsible for causing the wrongful death of many railroad workers. Recently, seven injured railroad workers filed a suit against their former employer for exhibiting negligence on the job.

The workers claim that BNSF Railway was aware of the danger posed by asbestos since 1935. At that time, the Association of American Railroads even recommended that companies thoroughly educated workers of the risk. No such education was given to the seven workers who filed the suit.

Additionally, the workers say that BNSF Railway continued to use the toxic fiber for decades after the hazards were discovered. Further, they failed to provide workers with inhalers and did not properly inspect the air quality during work hours. Because of this negligence, these workers suffered serious lung injuries.

Because it is highly heat-resistant, asbestos was commonly used in locomotive brakes to protect the trains from the extreme pressure and heat that is generated while in operation. However, when the brakes started to wear down, the asbestos in the brakes was also broken down into a fine dust. That dust was easily inhaled by anyone near the train.

In this suit, the workers claim that their employer was well aware of these concerns. Still, the company failed to protect and educate the workers. They also did nothing to limit or eradicate the toxic dust generated. It could have been as easy as sprinkling the working area with water to get rid of the airborne dust. The workers are requesting damages under the Federal Employers' Liability Act and the Locomotive Boiler Inspection Act.

Source: Courthouse New Service, "Workers Sue Railroad for Asbestos Exposure," David Lee, April 27, 2012

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