The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation – or BNSF Railway – is one of the largest railways operating today. It has thousands of miles of track which cross through 28 states, including Colorado. It has also proven to be a very dangerous place to work.
An exposé in a major U.S. newspaper chronicles just how bad the situation has become. Over the past two decades, the company has been involved in dozens of lawsuits involving worker’s compensation, wrongful death, and safety violations. From 2007-2009, the company’s insurance paid out over $100 million per year in legal claims, not including legal expenses for the company.
In addition to a horrible safety record, judges in many states are issuing fines and censures to the company for inappropriate legal conduct. A judge in one state recently ruled that the company was guilty of withholding evidence, tampering with accident sites, and lying under oath.
BNSF has consistently tried to deny worker’s compensation claims in the last decade, resulting in some landmark cases:
- A worker in Kansas lost his right leg and suffered permanent organ damage when he was nearly cut in half by an oncoming train. The company was accused of removing evidence.
- A Missouri worker suffered a severe back injury after his ladder collapsed. In court, the company tried to introduce a different ladder as evidence.
- In Texas, an engineer was killed in a collision with another train. A judge accused the company of concocting evidence.
It is no secret that some jobs are more dangerous than others. Workers are aware of these dangers when they take the job. But workers have a right to expect that their employer is doing everything it can to ensure their safety. With advances in technology and worker safety guidelines, employers have no excuse when their employees are being maimed and killed on the job.
Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune online, “Collision In the Courts,” Paul McEnroe and Tony Kennedy, 08 December 2010