I think you will find this edition of Railway Claim Services, Inc.'s newsletter
enlightening, interesting . . . as well as informative. I just finished reading what
is to follow my quarterly contribution, and have to say that Dave has done an excellent
job of weaving the ingredients noted above into this edition. Have you noticed how
technology is slowly altering all aspects of our lives? When you read the rest of
this newsletter you will see how Dave casually refers to the internet, web pages and
evolution wrought by the computer. He also reports on an FELA carpal tunnel lawsuit,
an ill from the good.
Two of RCSI's regional offices are now testing digital cameras, which
"photograph" in computer language. These digitally encrypted photographs
can then be instantly transmitted via modem to another computer across this great country
of ours, or around the world if need be.
There is software for all types of railroad applications, from bookkeeping to train
dispatching. Railroads report accidents and injuries to the FRA, often via computer,
where compilation is accomplished, again via computer. We buy automobiles (or
locomotives) with computers that connect us to satellites orbiting around our ever
shrinking planet, regulate fuel flow, activate air bags, and hundreds of other functions.
We routinely use cell phones, fax machines, video cameras, laser printers, video
tape players, audio tape players, CD players, and computer everything. . .
saving us time, so we can do more work in less time, and . . . we are working more, not
less. Such a time we live in.
Can you imagine how we would view today through 1987 eyes---only ten years ago. We
can all remember, with a little effort, how we functioned in business ten short years
ago. Think of the office of 25 years ago.
As technology advances in our ever competitive business lives so must we. Thanks for
allowing Railway Claim Services, Inc. to offer our niche skills in this ever increasingly
complex business environment.
Part of what we do here at RCSI is to conduct on-site safety audits for our
clients. Sometimes this is at the request of the insurance carrier.
Sometimes it is at the request of the railroad. Whatever the origin of the request
might be, it is our duty and responsibility to inspect the subject railroad in every way
to pinpoint any areas where we identify problems and/or the potential for problems.
These inspections are often the birthplaces for subject matter used in subsequent
newsletters. In our last newsletter I discussed the problem of trespassers.
From your response, this is a problem that is even larger than I had anticipated. I
appreciate the input I received from everyone and will do a follow-up on this subject in a
This time, however, I would like to address a request that many of you have made.
"How does my railroad's safety record stack up against the industry as a
whole?" This is a question for which there is no quick and easy answer.
We are working to develop formulas whereby safety performance in specific areas can be
measured. For instance, any measure for safety performance in the area of crossing
accidents must take into account numerous factors, such as 1) miles of track, 2) frequency
of train movement, 3) speed of trains, 4) number of crossings, 5) population density of
corridor, 6) type of crossing protection, 7) participation in safety programs (i.e.
Operation Lifesaver), 8) condition of crossings, 9) condition of track, 10) whether
crossings are rural or urban, etc. As you can see, any formula which takes into
account each of these variables would be complicated. Our goal is to simplify this
as much as possible while maintaining its validity.
As to employee injuries, there is already a measurement established and recognized in the
industry. This is called the Frequency Severity Index (FSI). This is a number
which equates to the number of reportable injuries per 200,000 manhours worked. The
Frequency Severity Index is computed by the FRA based on information supplied by the
railroads on a monthly basis. When you make your monthly report to the FRA showing
reportable injuries and hours worked, this is added to their database.
Unfortunately, individual records for shortline railroads are not maintained.
Records are kept in three categories Class I railroads, Group 2 railroads (200+
employees) and Group 3 railroads (less than 200 employees). Here are the FSI's for
the years 1995 and 1996.
Class I 3.39 2.77
Group 2 7.50 6.78
Group 3 9.61 9.32
Industry avg. 4.24 3.66
For a shortline railroad to reach 200,000 manhours would take years. Therefore, a
formula is needed for our segment of the industry. Try this.
X divided by (Y/200,000) = FSI
"X" represents the number of reportable injuries. "Y"
represents the number of manhours actually worked. The resulting number should be
annualized. To show this, let us assume a railroad which had 1200 manhours worked in
the month of June, with one reportable accident. According to the formula, we would
have an FSI for June of 13.89.
One divided by (1200/200,000) which is "one divided by 0.006" equals
166.67. Since June is only one twelfth of the year, we would divide 166.67 by 12 to
come with an FSI of 13.89. At year's end, the actual number of manhours worked
during the year can be used to give a more accurate FSI. If you find that you
actually worked 15,231 manhours during the year, and there were no other reportable
injuries, you would go back to the formula and would come up with a corrected FSI of
13.13. Hopefully this will be of some benefit to you in your safety program, at
least to the extent of measuring the performance of your railroad against your brethren in
In response to several requests, case cites are now included with these summaries.
FELA - NSRR A carman died from a brain tumor allegedly
caused by exposure to xylene, toluene, benzene, diesel fumes and pesticides over a period
from 1967 to 1992. Decedent's wife claimed that the railroad failed to provide her
husband with adequate protection and failed to warn him of the dangers posed by the
chemicals, despite the fact that the manufacturers of the chemicals recommended the use of
respiratory equipment and protective clothing. A Tennessee jury awarded $3.25
million. Barbara J. Hand, Adminix. Of the Estate of Charles D. Hand, etc. v. Norfolk
Southern Railway Company, Hamilton County (TN) Circuit Court, 94-CV-2354.
FELA - UPRR Clerk typist claims carpal tunnel syndrome as
a result of the awkward placement of a new computer keyboard. She required two
surgeries on each wrist. Railroad claimed her condition was the result of her
existing diabetes. The jury found for the plaintiff to the tune of $200,000.
Marilyn Shaw v. Union Pacific Railroad, St. Louis (MO) Circuit Court, 922-10255.
FELA MNCR - This 41 year old male suffered the partial
amputation of his middle finger and the tip of his index finger when a rail on which he
was working fell onto his hand. He missed five months work, but then returned with
no restrictions. What is the value of one half of a middle finger and the tip of the
index finger. According to this New York jury, the value is $434,000. Lawrence
Farley v. Metro North Commuter Railroad, U.S.D.C., Southern District of New York.
FELA MBTA This 49 year old was removing sections of rail
from a yard. One segment of ribbon rail snapped back on him while he was removing it
from the tractor, resulting is a fractured leg and ankle. The defendant railroad
failed to answer plaintiff's interrogatories and document requests. The court
entered a default judgement in the amount of $200,000. Peter LaGrow v. Massachusetts Bay
Transportation Authority, Surrolk County (MA) Superior Court, SUCV95-04268.
FELA UPRR Plaintiff slipped and fell on ice covered
ballast, injuring his shoulder and neck. Surgery ensued and he was unable to return
to work. The railroad claimed that plaintiff should have been wearing traction
devices. Plaintiff claimed such devices were unavailable. The jury awarded
$900,000. Richard Whitney v. Union Pacific Railroad, Scotts Bluff County (NE)
District Court, 43263. Xing Accident BNRR Due to infrequent usage,
rust had accumulated on the track surface, causing signal malfunctions. The railroad
issued a track bulletin instruction the train crews to bring their trains to a complete
stop at all crossings in this area. Track speed was reduced to 25 mph.
Nevertheless, a train moving at 40 mph struck the plaintiff at a crossing. She
suffered multiple injuries. The jury awarded $2,933,631. Chong Suk Bartel, et
ux v. Burlington Northern Railroad, USDC, Western District of Washington,
C95-5292JKA. Xing Accident NWRR Plaintiff was driving a
tractor-trailer as he approached the crossing. He slowed, but then proceeded onto
the crossing into the path of the train. As a result of the accident, plaintiff
suffered brain injuries. Although there were the standard arguments regarding the
proper operation of the train and the crossing signals, the significant factor in this
case was the admission into evidence of prior accidents at this crossing and prior
incidents of signal malfunction. The jury awarded $11.9 million reduced by 19% for
plaintiff's negligence. Jerome D. Lohmann, etc. v. Norfolk & Western Railway
Co., Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, WD52089.
Have you ever wondered how the U.S. Standard railroad gauge came to be 4 feet 8.5
inches? I have been told by what I believe to be a reliable source, that this
measurement dates back to the very dawn of civilization when wheeled vehicles were first
invented. As wheeled vehicles came into common use, trails were established between
villages. After some use, ruts were cut into the ground. When Rome became the
world's first superpower, an imperial decree established that all war chariots should
henceforth have wheels set apart exactly IV feet VIII.V inches. As the Roman legions
conquered the world, their chariots left roads throughout their empire with ruts of these
dimensions. After the fall of Rome, former colonies found it easier to continue to
build wagons with wheels spaced to fit the ruts than to build all new roads. When
the first tramways were built, the same dimensions were kept. As railways replaced
tramways, the same dimensions were maintained. In the United States, where no Roman
Legionnaire had ever set foot, English colonists brought with them wagons and carts.
In effect, the rutted roads of England were imported to the US. Even now, when new
tracks are laid down, somewhere in Heaven a Roman emperor smiles, knowing his decree still
lives. In the last newsletter I made mention of the RCSI homepage which will be coming
online in the next few months. One aspect of this page will be our ability to
provide page space and/or links to railroads and railroad service providers. If you
are interested in this service, please contact me at RCSI@Netease.net.
I have an interesting spot for you to visit on the web. If you do not yet have
railroad fonts for your computer, check out the following: http://www.mcs.net/~dsdandy/cyberroad.html
These are only a few of the railroad heralds available. There is also a monthly game
in which you identify the shortline heralds. Give it a try. RCSI welcomes your
input. If you have any questions or comments of interest to our industry, please
contact Dave Gardner at (901) 967-1796 or FAX your message to (901) 967-1788.
Railway Claim Services, Inc. is the recognized leader in independent railroad claims
management, which includes investigation, negotiations, and all those things in
between. If RCSI is not already a partner in your loss control and claims management
program are you accepting too much risk?
Railway Claim Services, Inc. 52 South Main Street Lexington, Tennessee
(901) 967-1788 Email email@example.com
Back to the Top