Urgent Safety Advisory: Enhanced Protections for Wayside Workers

12/31/2013

Dear Colleague:

I write to provide notice of FTA-recommended safety guidance in the wake of two urgent safety recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Thursday, December 19, 2013. I also write to request information from rail transit agencies and state safety oversight (SSO) agencies on your procedures to ensure the safety of right-of-way workers. NTSB’s recent urgent recommendations address conditions identified as part of its ongoing investigation into the deaths of two Bay Area Rapid Transit track workers on October 19, 2013 near Walnut Creek, California. They also reflect the results of investigations into worker fatalities at rail transit agencies in New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, Houston and Sacramento. In June 2012, the NTSB concluded that rail transit programs “may be ineffective in ensuring roadway worker protection.” Eighteen months and three fatalities later, the NTSB has found that “all rail transit systems are at risk for roadway worker fatalities and serious injuries.”

As a result of these findings, FTA is issuing a safety advisory guidance document, Safety Advisory 14-1: Right-of-Way Worker Protection. We are also issuing a request for information from transit agencies and SSO agencies that will be used to review the Nation’s rail transit right-of-way worker safeguards.

October 2013 was one of the deadliest months on record for the nation’s rail transit workers. Three workers were killed and two were seriously injured in two separate accidents on the rail transit right-of-way (ROW). Since 2002, 28 rail transit workers have lost their lives while working to maintain the nation’s rail transit infrastructure. We at the FTA and the U.S. Department of Transportation appreciate the urgency of the NTSB’s findings, and the critical safety challenge in front of us. Over the last decade, 28 workers have been killed in accidents on the rail transit right-of-way and the systems, rules and procedures put in place to protect transit workers failed each time.

We look forward to working with you to ensure that every transit worker goes home safely at the end of his or her shift. If you or your staff has questions regarding this safety advisory, please contact Thomas Littleton, Associate Administrator for Safety and Oversight at 202-366-9239, or you can contact me directly at 202-366-4040.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this advisory and your continued commitment to transit safety.

Sincerely,

 

Peter Rogoff