217.370.8505 cory@bletislb.org

Conductor trainee fatality prompts FRA safety bulletin

The Federal Railroad Administration last week issued a safety bulletin to increase awareness of the dangers of riding moving rail equipment and encouraged railroads to review their training programs for such equipment.

The bulletin was issued in response to the FRA’s investigation of a fatality that occurred June 26. Based on a preliminary investigation, a conductor and conductor trainee were riding the point on an empty intermodal well car during a shoving move of a train consisting of two locomotives and 43 intermodal well cars. The trainee was using a portable radio with a speaker microphone attached to his vest to communicate to the locomotive engineer.

Preliminary findings suggest that, although the trainee may have maintained three-point contact, his posture and position on the car were not stable enough to withstand the forces when the train slowed down and slack ran out. The trainee lost his balance, fell forward into the gauge of the rail and was struck and killed by the rolling equipment, according to the FRA bulletin.

The bulletin, which the FRA described as “informal,” calls on railroads to identify location-specific safety issues to cover during safety briefings and train or retrain employees. As it completes its investigation, the FRA might take additional actions related to the accident.

FRA officials asked railroads to review the bulletin and specific safety measures with employees. Those measures can be read here.