CSX no longer funding certain safety equipment for railroad workers

New safety concerns at CSX

An internal company bulletin obtained by Action News Jax shows that CSX will no longer pay for certain safety equipment used by its railroad workers.

The bulletin says that effective Tuesday, the Jacksonville-based railway would no longer be paying for safety boots or high-visibility clothing worn by employees.

The company would still pay for certain employees’ equipment who are under a collective bargaining agreement.

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This comes at a time when CSX is accused of sacrificing safety in order to save money and move freight quickly.

Last week, Action News Jax reported that the company was abolishing certain safety rules, such as the use of the brake stick and the “three-step rule,” safeguards that had been in place for decades and that most railroads still have.

CSX employees have reached out to us anonymously and told us they are working in increasingly unsafe conditions.

Alisa Wilkes is an attorney who has represented many CSX employees when they’ve been hurt on the job.

“There are going to be injuries,” Wilkes said. “Some people may not be getting the proper equipment at all, and that’s a concern.”

Wilkes said morale among CSX railroad employees is low.

“It’s hard to get up and go to work in the morning when you know that it’s another dime out of your pocket that you’re going to have to spend,” Wilkes said.

A CSX spokesperson told us in a statement that the change was being made now to underscore the importance of shared responsibility between CSX and its employees.

The spokesperson also said that the company continues to supply hard hats, safety vests and eye protection for its employees.

The company is under scrutiny for other operating changes since CEO Hunter Harrison took over.

As CSX has cut jobs, it has consolidated trains to make them longer.

People in all parts of Jacksonville have called us to say that the trains, which are sometimes more than 2 miles long, are blocking them from leaving or getting to their homes for hours.

Officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office have even begun citing the company for these delays.

Similar issues have affected shippers and customers.

The Surface Transportation Board in Washington, D.C., told the railway to fix service issues.

The letter sent directly to Harrison mentions slow transit times, delays and even empty rail cars that sit in yards for days.