National Transportation Safety Board Revamping Transit Worker Safety Regulations in Wake of Transit Worker Fatalities

The October deaths of two Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers in Walnut Creek, California has caused the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to announce last week that the federal agency would issue new rail worker safety regulations that will go into effect by the end of 2013 across the country in conjunction with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The agencies are still investigating the fatal accident, but no probable cause has yet been determined.

In its announcement, the Administrator of the FTA, Peter Rogoff, said that “[t]he FTA shares the National Transportation Safety Board’s sense of urgency when it comes to protecting the safety of transit workers and passengers at BART and around the country. We are currently evaluating the NTSB’s recommendations. Before the end of this year, we will issue new safety-related guidelines to all rail transit agencies, including BART.”

The incident occurred on October 19th when a BART employee and another worker under contract were inspecting track between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill stations. According to a coroner’s report, both men were killed when a train hit both men from behind by a train driven by an operator training to maneuver the vehicle. The report also showed that the workers had failed to follow BART safety that required one staff member to act as a lookout while another was working on the tracks. At the time, only two trains were moving on the entire BART system due to a strike among workers and to allow for training of new drivers.

A worker sits to examine railroad tracks on a sunny day

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