Railroad workers – including trainmen, conductors, engineers, switchmen, etc. – are exposed to hazardous chemicals and toxic fumes on a regular basis. Unfortunately, many of the big railroad companies neglected to take the necessary safety precautions to reduce the health hazards associated with this exposure to asbestos fibers, diesel exhaust fumes, radiation, etc. In addition to these awful toxins, many railroad workers have been exposed to benzene through diesel exhaust fumes and developed myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). This serious condition is also known as “Pre-leukemia.”
What is MDS?
MDS is a condition in which bone marrow in the body produces insufficient amounts of healthy blood cells that are needed to control various functions in the body. The disease affects an estimated 4 in 100,000 people. Approximately 10,000 to 20,000 new MDS diagnoses occur in the U.S. each year. An exact number is difficult to determine as MDS can go years before it is diagnosed.
Studies show that several patients diagnosed with MDS have a history of being exposed to radiation and/or toxic fumes such as benzene diesel exhaust. Railroad workers are particularly susceptible since they may have been exposed to benzene while working in and around the rail yard.
MDS Affecting Railroad Workers
Benzene can be absorbed into the body through your skin or if it’s inhaled. In most cases, railroad workers developed MDS by breathing in benzene diesel exhaust fumes. Anyone working in an area where this toxic chemical is used, is at risk for inhaling these disease-causing vapors.
In addition to MDS, benzene exposure can cause a host of other medical conditions including damage to your immune system and anemia and other cancers.
Did the Railroads Know About the MDS Risk?
In the 1950s, concerns regarding workplace chemicals and fumes was raised, but many railroads decided to take a wait and see approach and therefore failed to take the necessary steps to improve workplace safety. The consequences of which are still being felt today because thousands of railroad workers have developed diseases such as MDS, mesothelioma and other life-threatening diseases.
What can you do?
People who have developed MDS as a result of exposure to benzene in the workplace may be able to file a lawsuit seeking financial damages for lost wages, medical bills and other needs. In benzene lawsuits, the manufacturers, suppliers and others can be sued.
Contact an experienced railroad disease lawyer today to discuss your case. You may be able to pursue financial restitution through the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). This is a special federal law designed to provide a cause of action to railroad employees hurt on the job or who develop life-threatening diseases after ending their railroad career.