Writers on railroad subjects have jokingly asserted that it is
possible to identify a railroad man by his large watch chain. This
was not always so. Before the advent of the costly standard railroad
watch and the somewhat cumbersome chain to hold it safely, a more
gruesome means of identification existed: observation for the absence
of fingers from either or both hands. Years ago, this was so common
among railroaders in train service that hiring officials frequently
looked at applicants' hands for mute verification of the experience
claimed in the application form. The crude link-and-pin coupler was
the chief culprit, and its eventual replacement by the automatic car
coupler contributed more than anything else to a virtual elimination
of hand injuries.
Throughout the years, sill steps, grab irons,
ladders, and running boards have been added or improved, with the
resulting elimination of many other hazards that caused injuries and
A rail yard, however, is still a place of potential personal
injury and property damage.
Like the automobile and modern roads,
rolling stock and rail yards have reached a high degree of mechanical
safety, but the remaining contribution must come from the users.
Volumes of safety rules have been written, extensive safety campaigns
have been waged, and discipline has been enforced for rule
Still, some injuries and deaths occur.
certainty of the language of railroad rules lapses at one point into:
"In case of doubt or uncertainty, personnel will take the safe
course" --rule 108, TM 55-200.
This rule, more than any other,
places the final responsibility for safety directly on the
Railroad workers must think constantly of safety, and
men working in, on, and around moving engines and cars must
concentrate on what they are doing. Although railroads provide safe
working equipment and comprehensive safety rules, workmen are
responsible for their own safety and must not depend upon others to
apply the rules for them.
However, all workers should be properly
instructed in safe