April 24, 2014

Holiday season is also the ‘deadly season’

We need your attention.

Because your family needs you for the holidays. Because your family needs you for the new year. Because your family wants you home tomorrow and the next day, and the day after that — alive and with all four of your limbs, your two hands and two feet, all 10 of your fingers and all 10 of your toes.

So do we have your attention? Wrong.

It’s not here we want your attention. It’s on the job — every minute of every hour.  We want you focused. We want you to be aware of every situation. We want you to expect the unexpected.

That’s how you go home to your family in one piece.

The weeks ahead are, historically, the most deadly for railroad workers, with more career-ending injuries than any other period of the year.

The Switching Operations Fatalities Analysis (SOFA) working group — representatives from labor, management and the FRA — devotes itself to bringing railroaders home to their families in one piece.

SOFA’s five lifesaving tips can save yours:

  1. Secure all equipment before action is taken
  2. Protect employees against moving equipment
  3. Discuss safety at the beginning of a job or when work changes
  4. Communicate before action is taken
  5. Mentor less experienced employees to perform service safely

The SOFA working group also warns of special switching hazards:

  • Close clearances
  • Shoving movements
  • Unsecured cars
  • Free rolling rail cars
  • Exposure to mainline trains
  • Tripping, slipping or falling
  • Unexpected movement of cars
  • Adverse environmental conditions
  • Equipment defects
  • Motor vehicles or loading devices
  • Drugs and alcohol

In solidarity, and with concern for you and your family, we wish you a SAFE holiday season and urge you not to drift into a mental vacation:

Your UTU SOFA Working Group:

Louisiana State Legislative Director Gary Devall

Minnesota State Legislative Director Phil Qualy

Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo