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Rail News: Safety

Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division back committee's roadway worker safety report


Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) President W. Dan Pickett and Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) President Freddie Simpson recently commended the work of the Fatality Analysis of Maintenance-of-Way Employees and Signalmen (FAMES) Committee and jointly called for the rail industry to take the necessary steps to eliminate “impact” fatalities and injuries to roadway workers.

The FAMES Committee is a voluntary, consensus-based work group focused on identifying risks, trends and factors that impact roadway worker safety. The 23-member committee includes representatives from labor, management and the Federal Railroad Administration.

Last week, the committee issued its first report, titled “Fatal Accidents Involving Roadway Workers-In-Charge and Lone Workers,” which analyzes the higher-than-expected number of fatal accidents involving a roadway worker who was responsible for the on-track safety of themselves or the work crew, and was killed when struck by a train or on-track equipment.

Among the report’s recommendations:
• if work requires oversight and supervision from a roadway worker-in-charge (RWIC), the RWIC must not be assigned or assume the duties of a watchman/lookout;
• if an exclusive track occupancy authority exists only for the track being worked on, roadway workers cannot foul an adjacent track without establishing on-track safety;
• on-track safety briefings should emphasize the risks associated with roadway maintenance machine (RMM) movements and address items such as noise, machine spacing, obstructed visibility and proper communications whenever roadway workers are near RMMs; and
• every roadway worker must ensure that on-track safety is established and understood prior to fouling a track.

“The recommendations from the FAMES Committee, if embraced by workers and management, will save lives,” said Pickett in a prepared statement.

The committee will periodically issue findings and recommendations based on its review of available safety data. So far, the committee has investigated 39 fatal-impact accidents, which occurred between January 1997 and 2011’s end, involving 41 roadway workers.

“We have to find ways to increase on-track safety protection beyond the regulations,” said Simpson.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/4/2012