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Train line fined $210K for worker deaths

An accident on San Francisco’s commuter rail line, known as BART, that killed two workers has led to a large fine from that state’s work safety agency. It has also led BART to change its policy regarding trains bearing down on employees working on or near the tracks.

In levying a $210,000 fine on BART, Cal/OSHA said that the rail line committed “willful serious safety violations” and failed to follow vital safety regulations.

The workplace accident happened last October, during a strike that halted passenger service. However, managers took a trainee out on a training and maintenance run.

The train came upon an engineer and consultant and struck them. Both died as a result.

Among the things that Cal/OSHA found contributed to this terrible accident is BART’s since-changed policy regarding workers on the tracks. At the time, workers were considered to be responsible for their own safety, and there was no warning of any kind when a train was coming. The victims were supposed to simply look out for coming trains.

Since the deaths, BART changed its policy. Now, trains are supposed to slow down, stop or change course if they are approaching workers. In addition, the agency says it’s working on new ways of communicating alerts.

The victims were not qualified to be doing the work they were performing, Cal/OSHA said. It is possible that they were ordered to perform the work because of the strike. The president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 said he saw the fine as proof that the victims were not responsible for their deaths.

Source: KMAX-TV, “BART Fined $210,000 After Worker Deaths In October Accident,” April 17, 2014

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