April 17, 2014

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?

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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

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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 [...]

Restricted speed: A warning not to be ignored

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As most railroaders can attest, there are times that procedures and operating rules set by the FRA or imposed by carriers can be difficult to understand. The language may seem vague, and the ballast-level application often is left up to interpretation, which leads to ambiguity and confusion. Other rules and procedures are crystal clear, but [...]

NTSB urges action on speed-restriction complaince

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WASHINGTON – Warnings of speed violations have been issued by the National Transportation Safety Board, which urges unions, their members, carriers and the Federal Railroad Administration to work collaboratively to ensure compliance of train and engine crews with speed restrictions. The NTSB action followed its investigation of five rear-end collisions where the NTSB concluded that [...]

Yard safety: Don’t let winter claim limbs and lives

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We are into the season of losing limbs and lives in yard accidents. More career-ending injuries and fatalities occur during winter months – even in warmer climates – than any other season of the year. Even veteran rails – not just new yard employees — lose their situational awareness during this period, and the price [...]