Train Conductor is Severely Injured by Railroad Car


Railroad Expert WitnessThis case takes place in Kentucky and involves a railroad conductor who was injured by machinery at a railway offloading premise. The conductor was performing his everyday duties of directing the movement of railroad cars loaded with coal into their respective offloading areas- where the cars are emptied by use of an external machine. In the course of performing these duties, he was struck from behind by one of the offloading machines, which crushed his body against the railroad car. As a result, he suffered severe and permanent injuries to his body, which have permanently and totally disabled him from his occupation as a conductor. It is alleged that there was insufficient visual devices (mirrors and digital cameras) for the operator of the offloading machine to safely make a backup move, and that no backup warning devices were installed.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Are you familiar with the instruments and devices required on trains to ensure the conductors safety?
  • 2. What is your experience in setting safety policies/procedures for trains?
  • 3. Are you familiar with protocols and cross checks a railroad company should take to ensure rider safety?

Expert Witness Response E-008058

I am very familiar with various safety procedures involving the spotting, unloading, and loading of ore cars. Each railroad has their own set of rules. I have access to former and current employees who work on the CN Railway at ore docks in both MN, as well as the BNSF operations in WI, so I can certainly obtain up-to-date information if asked about particulars. I have worked as a Switchman, Conductor and Locomotive Engineer with BNSF Railway in transporting, loading and unloading, and switching operations. I have also worked on ore docks where there was use of the portable ore handler machines (car dumpers) that open and close cars into the ore pockets, which empty into the ore boats traversing the Great Lakes. Currently, there are two railway ore docks in my general location that still use these machines on the ore docks, one location at Two Harbors, MN and the other at Duluth, MN. BNSF still uses their ore docks but instead of using train crews to spot the cars on the docks, they converted to a conveyor belt system in the early 80’s. BNSF spots their loaded trains at a “Dumper House,” in which the train crew releases their loaded train to the facility employee, who then unloads the car train using a mechanical arm that pushes the train and unloads three cars at a time, generally taking 6-8 hours. The cargo is then conveyor belted to either a stock pile or directly to the ore dock if a ship is waiting to be loaded. I also worked as a Switchman in 1970 for the DMIR Railway (now CN) on the ore docks and am familiar with these car dump machines.

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