Federal investigators push for Metro-North to protect workers

Friday June 21, 2013

A Metro-North Track Foreman was recently killed when he was struck by a New York-bound train that was traveling about 70 mph. The Track Foreman was doing construction work at the site of a new train station when he was struck.

In light of that accident, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the independent Federal agency that investigates significant transportation accidents in the U.S., is urging Metro-North railroad to move quickly and start using a simple safety device to protect workers on its tracks.

Although the NTSB investigators have not yet found the cause of the fatal accident, the agency said that Metro-North should start using a system called “shunting” on tracks that are undergoing repairs. In this procedure, work crews would attach a shunt to rails in a work zone to alert controllers and gives approaching trains a stop signal.

The last time a Metro-North employee was killed in a workplace accident was in 2009, when a signal maintainer was hit by a New Haven line train.

The NTSB reported that in the recent train accident, a student rail traffic controller had turned off the closed signal on the track where the Track Foreman was working without getting approval from track workers on the day of the fatal mishap.

Metro-North reports that the railroad is working to put the NTSB’s recommendation into practice. The railroad has already modified its rules to have track controllers get approval from a supervisor before reopening a blocked track. Before the Track Foreman was killed in the accident, track controllers could unclog a track if they got verbal permission from a track worker onsite.

Protecting workers against hazardous or dangerous working conditions is the responsibility of employers. If they ignore that responsibility, they can be liable for the resulting on-the job injury or work-related death. If a work-related death occurs, the surviving family can be compensated. This compensation may take into account the loss of financial support and other expenses caused by the fatal accident. In such cases, the assistance of an experienced legal professional is very important.

Source:  ctnow.com, “After Worker’s Death, NTSB urges Metro-North to Improve Safety Procedures” Wes Duplantier, Jun. 17, 2013

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