A recent study conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that there are real safety concerns with the nation’s railways. In particular, the study shows that the major railroads are not adequately regulated. As a result, they are less safe than they should be.

About the Study

Note that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) oversees the safety of the nation’s railroads. Due to several past railway accidents that involved fatalities and hazardous materials, GAO conducted its study to review FRA’s oversight processes and the possible challenges to railroad safety.

The goals of the GAO study were to examine:

  • The overall framework that FRA, the states, and the railroads use to ensure rail safety,
  • The extent to which FRA and the railroads assess safety risks and allocate resources to address those risks, and
  • What challenges, if any, exist to FRA’s current safety framework.

The Study’s Findings

As stated above, FRA is responsible for overseeing the safety of U.S. railroads. The agency’s rail-safety oversight framework relies on inspections to ensure railroads comply with federal safety regulations. A problem, though, is that FRA does not have enough inspectors to perform its tasks. In fact, the study states that FRA estimates that its inspectors have the ability to annually inspect less than 1 percent of the railroad activities covered in regulation.

Given these inadequacies with inspections, railways have assumed the primary responsibility for the safety of the railroad system. But the study found that FRA is lacking inadequate human capital planning for it to properly set forth safety guidelines and regulations for the railroads to follow and adhere to. In the absence of these measures, FRA is placing the safety of today’s railways in jeopardy.

GAO’s Recommendations

In light of its findings, GAO set forth the two main recommendations:

  1. FRA develop a plan for finalizing its rulemaking and interim steps to implement its oversight of safety risk reduction programs, and
  2. FRA create a human capital plan that identifies and prioritizes FRA’s human capital needs and links them to FRA’s goals and objectives.

Contact Rossi Vucinovich for Help 

If you sustained a railroad injury, please contact our firm for help. Rossi Vucinovich PC has been helping railroad employees and people injured in railroad accidents recover from railroad injuries for over 50 years. We are dedicated to helping you obtain the benefits you need to treat your injuries, pay your bills, and continue supporting your families. Do yourself a favor and contact us today to get the legal help you deserve.