Every transit worker is to some degree in charge of picking up and dropping off passengers from their location and transporting them to their destination. While the typical job duties are not either challenging or mundane, there are significant factors that can make the job much easier, including patience and the ability to work in a hectic environment. Nearly all employees are required to work different shifts including daytime, evening, and overnight.
The job opportunities as a Transit Authority worker provide long-term security, advancement opportunities and excellent benefits. Many workers perform their duties alongside a diverse workforce for competitive wages. In the Chicago metropolitan area, CTA workers are paid substantially more than other transit workers and bus drivers nationwide. Not every employee worked directly with the commuting public. Some workers oversee maintenance of the buses, trains, and train tracks.
The fast-paced work environment is built around a tight schedule. This requirement often translates to long hours, credit conditions and stressful work. Entry-level jobs usually require only a high school diploma. Because of the ongoing demand for transportation, these jobs provide incredible stability for individuals who can work under strict rules. In exchange, the company provides 401(k) retirement plans, pension and health benefits and financial compensation for employees who must work weekends, holidays and on hours.
If you or a family member was injured while working as a transit worker, you are likely entitled to workers compensation benefits. Contact the workers compensation attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC for more information and a free review of your legal rights and options.
Transit Worker Hazards
Operating CTA buses and trains can be an unhealthy occupation and at times extremely dangerous. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), transit workers have exceedingly high rates of serious health issues including high rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, back and leg problems, anxiety and depression. Other data shows high incident rates of asthma, shoulder issues, gastrointestinal issues, carpal tunnel syndrome, cardiovascular problems, and lower extremity issues including vascular restriction caused by sitting for extended periods.
The work conditions of most transit employees can be extremely dangerous. Many workers perform their duties in poor air quality or are subject to passenger assaults, schedule stress, tight controls, and uncomfortable seats that do not provide ergonomic solutions for optimal time behind the wheel. Employees must often stand or sit for extended periods of time and be exposed to infectious diseases on the trainer bus.
As one of the nation’s largest mass transit systems, the CTA transports millions of commuters every year. Unfortunately, for the worker, the job must be performed in a dangerous environment. Some serious hazards involved in transit work include:
- Chemical Hazards – These hazards include exposure to carbon monoxide, asbestos, diesel emissions, lead, pesticides, mercury, steel dust, spray paint, polychlorinated biphenyls, welding, sulfuric acid, cleaning products, solvents, hazardous waste, and coal tar creosote inhaled in confined spaces.
- Biological Hazards – These hazards include blood-borne pathogens and avian feces.
- Physical Hazards including excessive noise, the potential of fire and explosions, and electrocution or electrical shock caused by high-voltage electricity.
- Safety Hazards – These hazards include traffic works zone dangers, falling, evacuation, and trenching.
- Ergonomic Hazards – These hazards include vibration, illumination, and musculoskeletal disorders including carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Stressor Hazards including work-related stress and the potential for workplace violence and aggression.
Many transit workers including bus drivers and train operators are subject to physical and verbal abuse in the workplace or attacked by angry, disgruntled passengers. Even so, they are required to ensure they provide optimal customer service and provide aid to beleaguered and bewildered passengers attempting to understand the transit system and reach their destination.
Transit Workers' Wages
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2016, data concerning the employment statistics of the previous year, 6500 Transit Workers were employed in the Chicago, Naperville and Arlington Heights metropolitan area. On average, Transit Workers in northeastern Illinois earn $56,710 every year (mean wage), which is $27.26 per hour. The wage is significantly higher than the national averages. See Chart
Transit Worker Fatalities and Severe Injuries
The dangerous and hazardous work of a transit employee has claimed the life of many workers while on the job. In Chicago, the density of the urban environment’s traffic activity is only minimally managed by the CTA and Metro trains and city buses. Unfortunately, accidents involving mass transit usually has catastrophic results. A small sampling of transit worker fatalities and severe injuries involve:
- Case 1: Chicago, Illinois – A Chicago bus crash killed one woman and injured eight others in a downtown accident during rush hour. At approximately 6:00 PM in June 2015, the bus jumped the curb and hit individuals on the crowded sidewalk along Lake Street and Michigan Avenue in downtown. The 51-year-old woman died at the scene. Some of the critically injured were transported to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. At the time of the accident, the 48-year-old driver was the only person on the bus.
- Case 2: Chicago Illinois – Metra’s Executive Director Phil Pagano apparently committed suicide in May 2010 by stepping in front of a moving train two miles away from his home in the Chicago suburb of Crystal Lake. The incident occurred in the same location where someone else committed suicide in 2007. One victim “all men standing on the tracks turning looking in the train." Witnesses say that the Director did not attempt “to step off the tracks before the train hit him while traveling 45 mph to 55 mph.
- Case 3: Chicago, Illinois – In June 2016, a CTA worker was killed after falling on the train tracks on Chicago’s northwest side close to the Addison Blueline station. The county coroner office determined that the victim died of electrocution after falling on the subway’s electrified rail that provides 600 Volts of direct current to propel the L trains. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled the death as an accident. The 37-year-old newly hired employee fell from the track level onto the third rail while working as a CTA Flagger.
- Case 4: Chicago, Illinois – A 25-year Chicago Transit Authority Veteran who works for the Technology Department died on the Green Line Track near Clinton Station. The early investigation determined that the employee had touched the third rail that contains 600 Volts of direct current and died immediately of electrocution.
- Case 5: New York City, New York – A local MTA transit worker was killed after being struck by a subway train in Queens in April 2013. The early investigation confirmed that the employee was performing routine track work at the time of the accident. First responders provided emergency medical care but pronounced the worker dead at the scene.
- Case 6: East Harlem, Manhattan, New York – An MTA employee fell to his death while removing debris from the subway tracks. The 23-year-old worker fell approximately 20 feet while clearing the track near Lexington Avenue and 125th St. in the early morning hours and was hit by a train.
- Case 7: Brooklyn, New York – A transit employee was struck and killed by a Brooklyn bound subway train near the Fort Hamilton Parkway Station in November 2016. At the time of the accident, the train was traveling around the curve and pin two of three workers near the southbound track. The 53-year-old worker was pronounced dead after first responders transported the victim to the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. The other worker pinned by the subway train was transported to the New York Methodist Hospital (Brooklyn) in stable condition.
- Case 8: Manhattan, New York City, New York – A MTA transit employee making repairs in a Manhattan subway tunnel died after falling and injuring his head. The incident occurred in the early morning hours in March 2018. First responders found the unresponsive worker lying on the MTA southbound tracks. The 23-year-old employee was pronounced dead at the scene.
- Case 9: Chicago, Illinois – A newly hired CTA bus driver ran a red light in downtown Chicago, killing a pedestrian just three months after taking the new job. The 48-year-old CTA employee began working in September 2014. A spokeswoman for the Chicago Transit Authority said that the driver had received “all necessary CTA training before his employment." Witnesses say that the bus driver was attempting to avoid a collision with the vehicle before veering off the road.
In addition to falls, electrocutions, crashes, numerous train accidents have been the result of equipment failure, derailment, colliding with another train, or hitting pedestrians, workers or motor vehicles. Often, the accident is determined to have occurred because of operator error, poor maintenance, adverse weather conditions, defective train or bus parts, and road/track hazards. The sheer size, dimensions and weight of the bus and train moving more than just a few miles per hour can have devastating results when hitting workers, commuters, and others. Many surviving family members filed wrongful death lawsuits to reclaim their financial damages.
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Our lawyers help injured Transit Workers recover the compensation they are entitled to receive under the IL Worker’s Compensation Act and through civil lawsuits. Call Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers (888-424-5757) now for a Free Case Review.
Did you suffer an injury at work or become ill because of a related hazard associated with your job? You may be worrying about how you will provide the necessities and pay the bills for your family during your recovery. You may believe that you are too sick or too hurt to ever return to work in fear that you will lose the family home, the car, and your ability to provide for your loved ones in the future.
You may have no idea where to turn to recover financially from an occupational injury. Many individuals just like you have been in the same situation in the past and sought counsel and advice of a reputable personal injury attorney. Our law firm has assisted thousands of individuals in nearly every occupation, and our attorneys can help your family too. Our lawyers working on your behalf can handle every aspect of your case. Their efforts include filing a claim, gathering evidence, speaking to eyewitnesses, building your case, and presenting the lawsuit in front of a judge and jury or negotiating your settlement.
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