An Update from Our Firm about COVID-19

Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner remains fully operational and committed to serving our clients and colleagues throughout the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. As we follow the CDC guidelines and practice social distancing, we remain available for phone consultations and remote meetings with both current and prospective clients and colleagues. Please contact our office by email or by calling 713-222-7211 with any questions. We look forward to hearing from you.

Rail Worker Safety Affected by Falling Oil Prices

Railroad workers in Texas and throughout the United States have a right to be concerned about their safety. Last week, a website devoted to news about the Eagle Ford shale oil field in Texas posted a story about BNSF railroad workers' concerns for their safety. They say that their long shifts create unsafe working conditions.

The railroad has acknowledged that it changed the way it schedules and operates in Whitefish, Montana, where the story originated. The changes almost certainly reflect increased pressure on the profitability of railroads caused by falling oil prices and the resulting decrease in production.

Longer Shifts Required

One BNSF employee said that the company now requires employees to work 12-hour days as long as six to 10 days in a row. Many believe that the company should recall furloughed workers instead of requiring remaining employees to work such long shifts. Although the railroad says that it has recalled those employees, it is not known how the recalled workers will be deployed.

One employee summed it up by saying, "We go to work fatigued all the time."

Another said, "We have such a safety-sensitive job for engineers and conductors running trains that are up to 17,000 tons, hauling hazardous materials and such."

Scheduling Changes Add To Job Uncertainty

In addition to the long shifts now required of railroad workers in that BNSF division, the company has changed how it schedules workers, who now get verylittle notice about the shifts they will be working.

The railroad denies that the changes represent a deviation from federal railroad safety rules. The only real change, according to a spokesperson, is that workers who previously were able to count on being assigned to one run, from Whitefish to Hauser (Idaho) or Whitefish to Havre, can now be assigned to either.

Government Agencies Report Link Between Fatigue And Crashes

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently reported that crew fatigue was the cause of several oil train crashes that have killed crew members and caused significant property damage. A 2013 report from the U.S. Department of Transportation showed that railroad workers have different sleep schedules from those of other workers. Railroad workers seldom get more than seven hours of sleep on workdays, making them more likely to be fatigued. According to the report, tired crews increase the risk of crashes from 11 to 65 percent.

The effect of falling oil prices is not limited to those directly associated with the oil and gas industry. Ancillary businesses such as railroads are also affected by slowing demand for transport, making it more likely that companies will take steps to change their operations to maximize profits. According to the railroad workers in Montana, these changes could easily compromise safety.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs, taking a lead role in the plaintiffs’ steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm’s client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

Our Record Of Success

When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

Read More Success Stories

Let Us Help You Request a Free Consultation Today

Get Help Now

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Back to top