Railroad workers face many dangers in their workplace. As a result, they are at a high risk of receiving common work-related injuries like cuts and burns and are also likely to develop cumulative trauma disorders (CTD).
What is CTD?
CTD refers to health conditions and injuries from long-term exposure to pressure and certain substances and actions. They usually affect the nerves and the musculoskeletal system, including the bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
What might cause CTD in railroad workers?
Several factors might lead to or worsen CTD in railroad workers. These include:
- Repetitive motions. Repeated movements can strain the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. Conductors and brakemen, for instance, are often at a substantial risk of injuries in the arms and shoulder joints because of the repetitive motions their jobs entail.
- Constant vibrations. Railroad workers often experience full-body vibrations from tools, nearby moving trains, and large machinery. These vibrations can damage their muscles and joints, leading to conditions like vibration-induced white finger disease.
- Sustained positions. The job of railroad workers usually forces them into staying in awkward positions for extended periods. These activities can damage a body part, leading to pain, fatigue, and difficulty with movement.
- Loud sounds. Railroad workers often experience loud sounds from engines and moving trains. These sounds might damage their ears over time, increasing the risk of becoming deaf.
- Toxic chemicals. Workers may encounter poisonous substances from smoke, welding fumes, cargo, and other sources. These chemicals may increase railroad workers’ risk of contracting respiratory diseases and certain cancers.
Railroad work is risky. For this reason, it is crucial that railroad workers exercise care and take advantage of protective equipment while doing their job. It is also essential that they understand their rights, especially concerning their safety in the workplace.