FRA Safety Advisory asks railroads to strengthen yard safety

Following a preliminary investigation into the December 14, 2006 death of a CSX carman in DeWitt Yard outside of Syracuse, N.Y., who was killed when his truck was struck by a remote controlled shoving yard movement, the Federal Railroad Administration has issued a series of recommendations to the railroad industry intended to prevent another such tragedy.

The recommendations were included in Safety Advisory 2007-01, which was published in the January 18 Federal Register.

FRA stressed that the accident is still under investigation, that causes and contributing factors have not yet been established, and that the Safety Advisory should not be construed as placing blame or responsibility for the accident on the acts or omissions of any person or entity.

FRA also noted that the subject of "point protection" for shoving movements was included in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning railroad operating rules and practices that currently is under consideration.

By issuing the Safety Advisory, FRA is asking the industry not to wait until the lengthy rulemaking process is concluded, but to act now to prevent another unnecessary injury or death.

FRA's most significant recommendation is that railroads "review, or amend as necessary, their point protection rules to clarify that the person protecting the point visually determine, for the duration of the shoving or pushing movement, that the track is clear either within the person's range of vision or for the complete distance the equipment is to be shoved or pushed, or that other safeguards are observed to prevent critical incidents involving shoving movements."

In making this recommendation, FRA acknowledged that "continuous observation cannot be accomplished if the person is also attempting to accomplish other tasks that cause the person to divert attention from providing point protection."

The Safety Advisory also recommended that railroads:

John Tolman, BLET's Vice President and National Legislative Representative, praised FRA's action. "The industry is long overdue for a mandatory point protection requirement for shoving movements and crews should have the absolute right to refuse to make a blind shove. We strongly urge the FRA to closely monitor the industry's response to these recommendations, and to take further action, if necessary, to ensure that another tragedy like the DeWitt accident never happens again," he said.



© 2007 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen