CSX Railroad undergone many changes since the new CEO, Hunter Harrison, joined the company. Over 2,000 jobs have been cut so far and more are expected to be cut in the near future. As a result of the reduced manpower, trains have been consolidated which has made them considerably longer – some of which are more than 2 miles long. Neighborhoods are being blocked and residents are prevented from entering or leaving their neighborhood for several hours. Emergency vehicles are not able to enter the neighborhoods during that time either. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has issued citations to CSX for the delays.
A Jacksonville news station recently received an internal company document from a CSX employee that shows CSX has eliminated several safety rules that were designed to keep their employees safe.
Among the safety rules no longer in use are the three-step rule and the brake stick.
The purpose of a three-step rule is to provide an added safeguard to prevent rail cars from moving when an employee is working between or under the cars.
The brake stick prevents railroad crew members from having to climb up and down train cars to turn the hand brakes. CSX employees feel that removing these safeguards has made their jobs more dangerous.
Alisa Wilkes, a personal injury attorney currently representing several CSX employees, said the safeguards that CSX has abolished are ones that most railroad companies have in place because they are important safety rules. Ms. Wilkes stated, “I have had clients from other railways that have been hurt because these rules haven’t been in place at other railways so I do know that it’s coming.”
When asked about the changes to the safety rules a spokesperson for CSX said “The safety of CSX employees and the communities where we operate is our highest priority. CSX continuously evaluates the operating rules that guide employees in safely completing their tasks, to ensure the rules meet the railroad’s changing requirements. Safety is the most important factor in evaluating changes to operating rules and we continue to apply best practices across our operation. Our goal is for every employee to return home safely at the end of their shift.”