November 27, 2014

SOFA warns of winter-related safety issues

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The upcoming months are historically the most deadly time of year for railroad workers, with more career-ending injuries than any other period of the year. In February 1998, a Switching Operations Fatalities Analysis (SOFA) working group, with representatives from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), labor and management, was formed at the request of the FRA [...]

SOFA urges diligence in late winter conditions

Representatives of the SMART Transportation Division’s Switching Operations Fatality Analysis Working Group (SOFA) urge railroad operating employees in northern states to exercise a heightened level of caution while working in late winter weather conditions.  Minnesota State Legislative Director Phillip Qualy and Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo remind all train crews to be aware of freezing [...]

Szabo: Moving in right direction thanks to SOFA

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The following message was sent to the UTU National Legislative Office from Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo. Friends, I wanted to share with you a rail safety achievement from 2013 that really meant a lot to me. Last year, only one railroad employee died during switching operations. As I wrote on the DOT blog, this [...]

FRA cautions rails about flat switching operations

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WASHINGTON – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) May 3 issued an industry-wide safety advisory to warn about safety hazards associated with flat switching operations on railroads. Since 2009, six railroad employees sustained fatal injuries placing themselves between unsecured rolling equipment during switching operations, including one employee who was killed last year. “Safety is our highest [...]

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 [...]

This is all about saving railroaders’ limbs and lives

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During the first six months of 2011, 37 serious injuries occurred during switching operations, resulting in three fatalities and eight amputations; while over the past two years, five rail workers have died in accidents involving rolling rail equipment. The Switching Operations Fatality Analysis (SOFA) Working Group and the UTU Rail Safety Task Force have been [...]

Situational awareness saves limbs, lives, careers

SOFA Logo

A UTU-member conductor employed by Canadian Pacific in LaCrosse, Wis., suffered a severe injury – being pinned beneath a freight car that derailed and tipped over — during a switching operation Sept. 5. The 43-year-old conductor had less than one year of service. During the first six months of 2011, 37 serious injuries occurred during [...]

Yard-safety workshop a life, limbs, careers saver

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Working in a rail yard puts life, limbs and career at risk more than any other job.  Members attending UTU regional meetings in San Antonio and New York have access to a yard-safety workshop – conducted in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration’s risk-reduction team.  Attendees will gain more from this workshop if they first [...]

Saving your life, limbs and career

Imagine baseball without rules against bean balls, football without helmets or rules against clipping, roadways without stop signs, and cars without seat belts. Rules have a purpose. On railroads the rules — developed over more than a century-and-a-half — are to save lives and limbs and keep trains running without incident. There is no more [...]

‘Tis the season – for deadly yard accidents

Safety 1st; Safety First

It’s winter — the three months of the year during which a significant number of yard fatalities and career-ending injuries occur. The FRA says risk is concentrated in cold-weather states, but those in warmer climates are not immune, because darkness is a factor along with cold weather and slippery ground conditions that contribute to falls. [...]