October 22, 2014

No defense for violating worker rights

OSHA logo; OSHA

Even when railroads return workers to their jobs with full back pay after wrongly terminating them for suffering a workplace injury, significant monetary sanctions may still be imposed by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Case in point is Norfolk Southern, which was ordered to pay damages in excess of $580,000 [...]

High-tech chicken soup to ease fatigue

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Sleep, fatigue, workplace safety and quality of life are stitched together tighter than the seams on a major league baseball – and unpredictable work schedules can undo those stitches faster than a Stephen Strasburg 100-mph heater. A new website, created by sleep scientists at Harvard Medical School, the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and the [...]

FRA, OSHA to coordinate safety complaints

OSHA logo; OSHA

Following almost 1,000 complaints from rail workers that they were improperly disciplined for reporting injuries or unsafe working conditions, the Federal Railroad Administration and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have forged an alliance to bring more pressure on railroads to stop the pattern of harassment and intimidation. “The safety of railroad employees depends on [...]

UTU member among 3 dead in UP Okla. head-on

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GUYMON, Okla. – Three Union Pacific crewmembers died in a June 24 head-on collision between two freight trains near here that produced a diesel fuel-fed fire so intense that the thick, black smoke could be seen for 10 miles and caused the closing of a nearby small airport and evacuation of a nearby trailer park. The [...]

NS retaliation again slapped by OSHA

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It is reasonable to wonder just how many millions of dollars in sanctions must be assessed against railroads by the federal government before they learn the lesson that employees are not the equivalent of number 2 pencils to be chewed on at will and discarded when convenient. In the most recent comeuppance applied to Norfolk [...]

Rail fatality in N.D.; amputation in Missouri

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During the month of May, one UTU member was killed  in North Dakota in a rail switching accident, another was murdered on his bus route in Los Angeles, and another lost a foot in Missouri in a yard switching accident. On CP Rail (Soo Line) in Kenmare, N.D., conductor Robert J. Glasgow, 38 (UTU Local 887, [...]

Confidential Close Call Reporting proving its worth

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It’s confidential and no-fault. And the result, according to the Federal Railroad Administration, is a significant reduction in rail workplace derailments that too often lead to serious injury and death — plus, as a bonus, better labor/management relationships and improved operational performance. We’re talking about four pilot projects called Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS), whose core value [...]

FRA mandates improved locomotive safety, comfort

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WASHINGTON – A final rule on improved locomotive cab safety and comfort has been published by the Federal Railroad Administration. The final rule, affecting all new and remanufactured locomotives in road and yard service, follows collaboration among the FRA, rail labor and carriers through the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) process and becomes effective June 8. Significant in [...]

What part of ‘no’ can’t railroads understand?

OSHA logo; OSHA

Sadly, there is a part of “no” that railroads just can’t understand. So, once again, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has hit a railroad in the wallet for violating an employee’s rights as protected under the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970, which was supplemented by the Rail Safety Improvement Act [...]

Job briefings save limbs and lives

Safety 1st; Safety First

Job briefings can prevent serious injuries and fatalities, says the Federal Railroad Administration in a switching fatalities and severe injury update. The FRA cites 23 fatalities that have occurred as a result of what it terms “inadequate job briefings.” The FRA offers the following tips for “an effective job briefing”: * First, a job briefing [...]