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Tram at Bush Intercontinental Kills Worker, Injures Another

Two workers on an elevated track were hit by an automated tram at Bush Intercontinental Airport this week. One man was killed, and the other was airlifted to Memorial Herman Hospital with work-related injuries.

The collision occurred between the Marriott Hotel and Terminal B of the airport. The automated tram, which is operated by Johnson Controls Inc., is run by computer software and runs on a one-mile track. Although the tram is monitored using video surveillance, Marlene McClinton, a spokesperson for the Houston Airport System, stated that there was no indication the specific area was being monitored at the time of the crash.

There were two passengers traveling on the tram when it crashed who were not injured. A representative for Johnson Controls stated in an email that the company is cooperating in the investigation, but declined to comment further on any safeguards in place on the track.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is conducting an investigation of the incident, which occurred on Tuesday morning at 11:30 a.m. McClinton said the men were performing their duties while on the track, although she was not sure as to what exactly they were doing. She speculated that they may have been surveying the tracks of performing maintenance. The tram has a maximum speed of 33 mph, and McClinton said there was uncertainty as to how the tram struck the men.

The victims were employed by contractors Weber Construction and PBS&J. They were hired by Continental Airlines, which handles the operation and maintenance of the tram per an agreement with the airport. Johnson Controls is currently facing a lawsuit by Miami International Airport after a tram overran a stop and slammed into a wall, injuring five passengers.

Source: Houston Chronicle "Tram at Bush Intercontinental kills worker on track," Zain Shauk, 26 October 2010

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