FELA Saves Lives
FELA is the strongest safety incentive in one of the nation’s most dangerous industries.
Because rail carriers only pay compensation under FELA when they are at fault — or when they have violated safety regulations — they can save money by improving their safety procedures and protections.
FELA has also empowered the rail companies to reduce chronic occupational illnesses and injuries, ranging from hearing loss to asbestos- and silica-related diseases. For example, as FELA hearing loss claims grew, the industry provided hearing protection equipment to employees.
“The FELA was one of the things that drove us to our current safety program of bringing the workers at the very bottom level into the program along with top management. . . . Our activity there led us to a formal quality program because of the success we have had in reducing accidents, reducing injuries, and consequently, the potential for FELA claims.”
— Chairman, Norfolk Southern Railroad 1991 Congressional Testimony
It is not just rail employees whose lives are at stake. So is the public at large. Freight railroads often carry large quantities of hazardous substances — and they are a potential target for terrorists. Now is not the time to accept any weakening of rail safety, which would be the inevitable consequence of weakening FELA.