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Worker deaths prompt WMATA, union to review system safety

Two trackworker deaths in seven months is two too many.

In response, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 will conduct a “comprehensive review of employee safety” and make any “needed changes” so the D.C. passenger rail system is a safer place to work, according to a May 16 prepared statement.

On May 14, Jong Won Lee, an automatic train control technician, was struck and killed by a train. He was 49. In October 2005, Michael Waldron, a track and structures employee, was struck and killed by a Metrorail train. He was 47.

Fred Goodine, WMATA’s assistant general manager for safety and risk protection, and Steve Feil, chief operating officer for rail, will work closely with Local 689 representatives to make recommendations. The team plans to look outside the transit arena at other high risk fields, including the military. Local 689 represents 7,000 employees.

"We need to do everything in our power to work together with the union to make sure that this never happens again," Interim General Manager Dan Tangherlini said. "We owe it to the families of Mr. Lee, Mr. Waldron and all of our other employees to make this the safest workplace that we possibly can."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/18/2006