Locomotive cab seats and the mounting systems of the seats have been the cause of injury to many railroad workers over the years.
We are all aware of injuries caused by obvious defects or failures in a locomotive cab seat or its mounting system. It is becoming more and more apparent that railroaders are suffering serious injury due to design and engineering problems in locomotive cab seats and mounting systems that are not nearly so obvious.
In spite of this situation the American Association of Railroads has no current standard for locomotive cab seats or their mounting systems. The last applicable standard was AAR Standard S-504 which was revised in 1981 and became obsolete in 1995. We have been advised that the AAR intends to cover locomotive cab seats in “Recommended Practice RP5104” which is anticipated to be released in late summer of 2001. Although vibration has become a recognized problem with locomotive cab seats neither a major supplier of locomotive seats nor most major railroads have conducted vibration test studies or positively addressed the harmonic problems associated therewith.
The three major concerns regarding seats are: safety, comfort, and durability. It appears as though short-term economic considerations have often compromised these critical concerns. While we recognize the challenge to build a safe comfortable, and durable seat given the space constraints and need for maneuverability in today’s locomotives we feel there is no room for compromise on safety.
The following are among many factors that have been recently recognized regarding vibration and harmonic problems associated with locomotive cab seating:
- The vibration and harmonics within the operating environment of a locomotive creates one of the most rugged applications for industrial seats.
- Seats manufactured for the trucking industry and other general industrial equipment have been installed in locomotives. These seats literally fall apart within a short time period due to the rugged application which includes vibration and harmonics.
- Addressing vibration and harmonics in the cab seat requires considerable focus on the seat mount system. Most existing locomotives use a tripod seat mount attached to a rail slide system that is integral to the cab wall. This seat mount is a significant contributor to vibration and harmonic problems.
Recognition of these problems is not sufficient. The industry and its suppliers must address these problems and make whatever expenditures are necessary to avoid injury to rail employees who are forced to utilize the seats provided.
If you are injured due to on obvious seating problem report the work injury and then call Hoey & Farina for advice immediately. If you require medical care for back or joint problems of uncertain origin be sure to advise your doctor about your work environment. Hoey & Farina will keep you informed of additional information, recommendations, or standards as we become aware of them. If you have any questions, please call us at 1-888-425-1212.