top of page

The Importance of Safety for Rail-Car Unloading

Most utility materials start their journey on a train. But you need to get your utility poles from the train to the truck that takes them to your job site. That’s why you need rail-car unloading.

Just like it sounds, rail-car unloading, also known as transloading, is a process of positioning trucks at railroads and moving the utility materials from the rail cars onto the trucks.

However, this process can be dangerous. The materials for utility projects are large and heavy, whether they are utility poles, pipes, or transformers. One mishap in utility pole transloading could cause severe equipment damage or even injure a worker.

Your rail car unloading must account for the safety risks and proceed as carefully as possible. This is the only way to keep everyone safe.

Ready to learn more about the importance of rail transloading safety? Keep reading to discover the safety risks and what you must do to ensure safe loading and unloading!

Safety Risks

With rail car loading and unloading, you have many safety risks to consider. Below, we have compiled a few of the big risks you should be aware of.

Equipment or Supplies Damage

One fairly large safety risk to consider is the risk of causing damage to equipment or the supplies you are unloading.

If the equipment operators are unfamiliar with rail cars, tank cars, or the unloading process, they could make costly mistakes. The utility supplies could be dropped back on the rail car or dropped on the truck, which would most likely damage the equipment and the supplies. Or the unloading equipment could be operated incorrectly, ruining parts on that equipment and delaying the entire unloading process.

With all the possibilities for error, the operators unloading the utility supplies must be trained and experienced to keep your transloading process safe.

Employee Injury

Because of human error, employees can be injured in a variety of ways during rail car unloading. Someone will likely get hurt if equipment is operated incorrectly or not maintained properly. Or if the employees are not trained on proper safety procedures, they are liable to hurt themselves or others around them.

Here are some injury risks that employees face during transloading:

  • Straining muscles

  • Falling from equipment

  • Getting hit by materials or equipment

  • Inhaling toxic substances

These are risks that your crew faces if they are doing the transloading themselves. If you choose to hire a company for rail car unloading, your employees at the railroad still face these injury risks since the transloading company may not operate with proper safety procedures. You have to prioritize your employees' safety whether they are unloading or supervising.


While lawsuits may not come to mind when you think of safety risks, they are a real consequence your company could be facing after unsafe practices. You could be sued for your unsafe operations, or if someone was injured, you could be sued for that employee's injury. These lawsuits can be expensive and cause project delays.

Even if a separate company caused the injury or accident, your name will still be involved in the lawsuit, and it could damage your reputation. So, you have to consider lawsuits as part of your risk in unsafe practices.

How to Mitigate Safety Risks

Now that you understand the risks inherent in unsafe practices, you can consider how to mitigate those risks and keep everyone safe during the loading and unloading of your utility materials.

Enforce Safety Protocols

Your first priority should be ensuring that everyone follows the right safety protocols.

For example, you can check that at least one rail car wheel is locked and that the hand breaks have been set to hold the rail car in position. Just by preventing the rail car from moving, the workers and the equipment will be much safer.

Another safety protocol is that one employee should be monitoring the unloading, looking for safety threats. This employee needs to have a way to notify everyone immediately if there is a safety threat or malfunction.

Finally, workers should follow the policy of never placing any of their body parts near the machine at any point of the operation. When everyone stays away from danger, they can be kept safe and the unloading process can run without hitch.

If you have these protocols in place with your crew and any transloading company you are working with, you can significantly reduce the risk of accidents, damage, and injury.

Hire a Transloading Company

Another step you can take for safety during rail car unloading is hiring a transloading provider.

Your crew probably doesn’t have huge amounts of experience with unloading materials from rail cars and loading them into utility hauling trucks. After all, they are utility workers, not railroad employees. So, your crew is more likely to make mistakes and risk the safety of everyone involved.

But when you hire a transloading company, they can keep your crew safe and unload the materials carefully.

You need to find the right transloading company—one that prioritizes safety has years of experience and offers exceptional customer service. But if you can find a quality company like that, your transloading will be much safer, and you can save time on your project.

Blackwood Resources is Here to Help

To have a safe rail car unloading experience, you can hire Blackwood Resources. We are a utility hauling company that will transload your utility supplies and transport them to your worksite.

We have specially designed trucks with cranes that can lift the utility poles, pipes, or transformers out of the rail cars and place them on our extra-long truck beds. All this equipment is maintained regularly so we can continue providing safe services to our customers.

With over 5 years of experience transloading, we have established safety protocols that can keep your crew safe and ensure successful transloading and transportation.

We can also unload the supplies for you at your worksite with our special equipment, so your crew does not risk their safety in unloading the long, awkward, and heavy materials.

Want to learn more about our safety protocols and how we can help you with your utility transloading, transportation, and unloading? We would love to answer your questions! Contact us at or 812-676-8770.



bottom of page