NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Fatal occupational injuries in the U.S. rail transportation industry.

Fosbroke DE; Moore PH
NOIRS 2000--Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 2000, Pittsburgh, PA, October 17-19, 2000. Pittsburgh, PA: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2000 Oct; :61-62
The rail transportation industry is much safer today than in the days of link-and-pin couplers, brakemen jumping from roof to roof to set hand brakes, and train operations regulated by time tables and train orders. Although significantly improved since the 1890s, work-related fatal injury rates in this industry are currently more than twice the national average. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) data were analyzed to assess the magnitude and distribution of fatal injuries in the rail transportation industry. Denominators for calculating fatality rates were estimated using the Current Population Survey. From 1992-1998, 226 rail transportation workers died of work-related fatal injuries in the United States. The fatal occupational injury rate was 11.2 per 100,000 workers per year. These statistics exclude worker fatalities in local and suburban transportation (e.g., commuter and light rail). Fatally injured workers were employed in 36 different occupations, but, 61% of the victims worked in train operation occupations, including railroad conductors and yardmasters (55 deaths), railroad brake, signal, and switch operators (45 deaths); and locomotive operating occupations (37 deaths). Seventy-five percent of cases involved either a railway event (48.2%), or a pedestrian struck by a vehicle or mobile equipment (12.8%). Eighty-one percent of incidents involved a rail vehicle (68.6%), or a motorized highway vehicle (12.8%). Circumstances associated with fatal injury include being struck by, or caught between rail cars during switching and spotting of rail cars; operating locomotives, or riding on trains involved in derailments and collisions; riding in motor vehicles involved in highway collisions; and being struck by trains during repair, inspection, or maintenance activities. These results indicate that railway workers risk of injury is similar to that of workers in mining and construction where the need for improved safety measures has long been recognized.
Railroad industry; Railroads; Accident rates; Accident statistics; Accidents; Accident prevention; Injuries; Traumatic injuries; Mortality data; Mortality rates; Mortality surveys; Statistical analysis; Epidemiology; Surveillance programs
Publication Date
Document Type
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
NOIRS 2000 Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 2000, Pittsburgh, PA., October 17-19, 2000
Page last reviewed: April 9, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division