This is the second in a series of safety alerts issued by the UTU Rail Safety Task Force.
The task force was appointed by International President Mike Futhey in response to a spike in railroad on-duty employee fatalities.
This safety alert focuses on the job of protecting the point while riding rail cars.
In such situations, here are facts to consider and questions to ask yourself as part of assuring you return home to your family in one piece:
- Are you controlling the movement to really allow stopping within half the range of vision? Are you really protecting yourself?
- Have you considered walking as a safer alternative in some cases?
- From how far away can you see a one-inch gap in switch points? In daylight, it’s about 130 feet, at most. And the average railroad issued lantern casts light for approximately 70 feet
- Do you know how many feet per second are you moving at 10 mph? The answer is 15-feet per SECOND; and at 8 mph, it is about 12-feet per second.
- Now contemplate that you are protecting the point during daylight, with a single engine shoving 10 loaded lumber cars on flat grade at 15 mph. Now, you see a gapped switch. It will take you 8.6 seconds to stop.
- If you are shoving too fast,, are you rolling the dice?
- Now contemplate what would happen if the shoving movement at 15 mph were a crossover lined into a cut of cars, or a car left out to foul.
- In such a situation should you consider stopping the movement and walking ahead to inspect and protect?
- There have, recently, been a great number of shoving-related fatalities and career ending injuries in our industry. Please be careful. Always maintain situational awareness. It’s very dangerous out there, and your family wants you back home in one piece.
UTU Rail Safety Task Force
Greg Hynes, UTU assistant Arizona state legislative director
Steve Evans, UTU Arkansas state legislative director
Jerry Gibson, UTU Michigan state legislative director
Scott Olson, UTU Arizona state legislative director
For more information on the UTU Rail Safety Task Force, visit the task force’s interactive Web page by clicking:
July 3, 2009