Railyards Were Once So Dangerous They Needed Their Own Railw

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Railyards Were Once So Dangerous They Needed Their Own Railw

Postby MaineCoonCat » Wed Aug 01, 2018 4:27 pm

On JULY 25, 2018 In an article entitled "Railyards Were Once So Dangerous They Needed Their Own Railway Surgeons", SARAH LASKOW of the Atlas Obscura staff wrote:Railyards Were Once So Dangerous They Needed Their Own Railway Surgeons
Feet, hands, and lives were at risk.
rail danger surgeon.jpg

Railway company publications warned about hazards at work. COURTESY MIKE ESBESTER AND RAILWAY WORK, LIFE AND DEATH
TO WORK FOR A 19TH-CENTURY railroad, it helped to be fearless, tireless, and a little reckless. Railway workers spent long shifts maintaining tracks, coupling and decoupling cars with swift and practiced moves, or unloading goods in train yards, and throughout all those exhausting hours one unlucky moment could cost them a hand, or a leg, or more. “They suffer as if they were fighting a war,” said Congressman Henry Cabot Lodge, in 1892. In the United States, in 1889, one in every 35 railway workers was injured each year, and in the more dangerous “running trades” that put some of them in close proximity to trains, that rate jumped to one in 12. Fatalities were common, too. One out of every 117 workers died on the job. In Britain, railway accident reports contain more than one incident where the body of a man struck and killed by a train flies through the air to hit and injure a coworker.

Railway work was so dangerous that an entire medical specialty developed to deal with it. In the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, companies hired “railway surgeons” to staff private hospital and health care systems. An on-call doctor could rush to the scene of an accident, or be ready to receive a bleeding, injured worker sent to them by train. They were pioneers in emergency medicine and specialized in amputations and prosthetics. Some consider them the world’s first trauma surgeons.

In the 1800s, it was generally rare for a private company to take such an interest in its employees’ well-being, but railway surgeons were not celebrated figures. Workers resented having their wages garnished to pay the surgeons’ salaries, while other doctors scorned them as lackeys of the railroads. Today, even in a world still full of railroad enthusiasts and obsessives, they have been all but forgotten.


Read much more of this story at the Atlas Obscura web site

NOTE: The link in this story to "Railway Work, Life and Death" is bad. Use this link ►► http://www.railwayaccidents.port.ac.uk/
Seen behind the motorman on the inside wall of a PCC departing "Riverside" many years ago: "Pickpockets are on duty for your convenience."
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