The U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) has warned that long-term exposure to diesel exhaust fumes can cause serious health problems for railroad workers. According to the NIH, diesel exhaust has been implicated in many cases of lung cancer and in other respiratory ailments due to its corrosive effect on lung tissue. Even short-term exposure to concentrated levels of diesel exhaust can cause serious side effects that include dizziness, irritation of lungs and throat, tightness of the chest and vomiting. A 2006 article published in the scholarly journal Environmental Health Perspectives explored a connection between long-term railroad employment as an engineer or conductor and the frequency of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) among that group, finding that railroad employees had a higher incidence of COPD than the general population. When railroad worker injuries, accidents and collisions are added into the mix, the result is a dangerous environment for most railroad employees. Not Safe to Breathe Diesel fuel has been the preferred way to power trains for over fifty years. As a result, most railroad workers have been exposed to diesel exhaust on a regular basis throughout their employment. These exhaust fumes contain numerous chemical compounds that can have a damaging effect on lungs, skin and other systems within the human body. The particulates created by burning diesel are another major concern; these chemical-laden particles are airborne and can easily be inhaled by those working in the area, creating added risk for respiratory diseases and lung cancers for long-term railroad employees. Engineers and conductors are especially susceptible to these ailments because particulate matter and diesel fumes can often seep into the engine cab to contaminate the air inside this small chamber. Injuries on the Job Railway work injuries and train wrecks also present significant hazards to the health and well-being of employees in this industry. The Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis recorded over 10,000 railroad accidents in 2012. Statistics indicate that 3,777 railway employees were injured on the job due to these accidents and that 11 employees were killed in the course of their duties. Hazardous materials were released in 25 cases and required the evacuation of 2,116 people during 2012 alone. A Measure of Protection for Railroad Workers The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) offers railroad employees recourse when they have been injured on the job or have developed occupation-related illnesses due to their working conditions. Enacted into law in 1908, FELA allows railroad workers who are not covered by state workman's compensation regulations to sue their employers for unsafe or negligent working conditions. FELA railroad accident protection requires workers to demonstrate negligence on the part of the railway company that led directly or indirectly to the accident or health issue. Even partial responsibility for the accident is usually enough to allow the worker to receive full compensation for injuries or losses incurred during the train wreck or sustained over time during the course of the employee's duties. Legal Help for Railway Workers FELA attorneys can help workers obtain compensation for injuries and illnesses caused by working conditions or received in a train wreck or other catastrophic event. A qualified train accident attorney can often pursue a claim under the provisions of FELA to show culpability on the part of the train company and achieve a sizable settlement or award for the railroad employee. Exposure to pollutants, hazardous materials and carcinogens in the workplace can also lead to large settlements if the railroad is found negligent in protecting workers against these threats to health and safety. In most cases, demonstrating a failure on the part of the train company to adhere to federal safety regulations can provide sufficient evidence to encourage an out-of-court settlement from the railroad's legal representatives. A qualified railroad worker injury lawyer can protect the interests of injured or ailing railroad workers and help them to achieve the compensation they deserve. By enlisting the help of these professional FELA attorneys, workers can ensure that their legal rights are protected and that they receive the maximum settlement possible for their on-the-job injury claims.