When a railroad employee is injured at work, the law usually requires the railroad to report that injury to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The rules for reporting are set forth at 49 C.F.R. Section 225.19(d). Each death, injury, or occupational illness that meets the criteria of (1) through (6) below, and is caused, at least in part, from an event or exposure arising from the operation of the railroad is reportable. The event or exposure does not need to be the sole or predominant cause, it only must be one of the discernable causes of the injury, and includes the significant aggravation of a preexisting condition. The criteria for reporting are as follows:
(1) Death to any person;
(2) Injury resulting in medical treatment, significant injury diagnosed by a doctor, or loss of consciousness;
(3) Injury resulting in a day away from work, restricted work activity or job transfer;
(4) Occupational illness that results in a day away from work, restricted work activity or job transfer, loss of consciousness or medical treatment;
(5) Significant illness diagnosed by a physician even if it does not result in death, a day away from work, restricted work activity or job transfer, medical treatment or loss of consciousness; or
(6) Illness or injury including needlestick or sharps injury, medical removal from service, occupational hearing loss, occupational tuberculosis, or musculoskeletal disorder if the disorder is reportable under one of the other general criteria.
Whether an on-duty injury is reportable to the FRA is crucial to a railroad employee because the potential for harassment or intimidation significantly increases once the railroad is forced to notify the FRA of the event. Injured railroaders should be aware of the FRA reporting rules, as well as the legal protections that exist to protect them when such harrassment occurs.