Locomotive engines are loud due to the nature of these big machines. This puts the conductors and drivers at risk of occupational noise exposure. In order to minimize the risk of these workers suffering hearing loss, the Federal Railroad Administration has set standards that all railroad companies and employees must follow.
The railroad industry closely follows the guidelines set by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) for hearing preservation. One of the requirements is that if the noise level reaches 90 dBA, hearing protection for workers is mandatory. For engineers, however, it is optional unless they are exposed for at least an eight-hour weighted average period to that noise level.
It is up to the railroad to train employees on auditory protection. They must also provide the hearing protection for the conductors, engineers and others to use. Typically, the railroad must also have dosimetry and audiometry for the area and personnel. Records of the readings must be kept.
Individuals in this industry have to undergo testing for their hearing once every three years at a minimum. This leaves long periods between tests in which hearing might worsen. The testing is still important because it might provide information about when the hearing loss began.
If you’re a railroad worker who is subjected to noise exposure at work, your hearing loss might be compensable under the Federal Employers Liability Act. Working with an experienced attorney can benefit you as you fight for the compensation you’re due. Your lawyer can help to tie the work conditions to your hearing loss to the harm you suffered.