FRA Outlines New Safety Measures After Workers Are Killed in Amtrak Crash
New safety measures were ordered last month by FRA federal railroad officials as well as expanded drug testing for work crews, in the wake of a series of accidents including one that killed two track workers nearly eight weeks ago.
The measures were imposed by the Federal Railroad Administration They included additional protective measures for work crews who are operating on or near active railroad tracks. There will be safeguards on the use of equipment on or near the tracks that can serve as a second line of defense to prevent collisions between workers and trains.
FRA Increases Alcohol and Drug Testing
The FRA has widened a drug- and alcohol-testing program that was already in place for engineers and dispatchers—to include track maintenance workers. Two workers lost their lives on April 3 in Chester, Pennsylvania when a train killed a worker and a supervisor when it hit a backhoe that was on the tracks.
The new rules incorporate some updates that were outlined by Congress in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Amtrak has been involved in a spate of high-profile accidents in recent years that have led to a loss of life, raising questions about railroad safety.
The investigation in the wake of the Chester accident has looked at whether the work crew received a proper safety briefing before beginning its shift, a requirement of federal safety rules. It has raised questions about the level of communication between the work supervisor and a rail dispatcher shortly before the train was cleared to proceed through the work zone. Recently, I noted how safety systems may have been disabled before the fatal Amtrak crash in Chester.
Some people close to the investigation have alluded to a failure to implement basic safety procedures, leading to a loss of life.
They said a shunt strap was not in use at the time of the accident. Amtrak’s rules require the use of shunt straps in numerous situations, a railroad spokeswoman told the media after the Chester accident. The railroad has yet to comment on whether the work crew in that incident had used a shunt strap.
Something clearly went badly wrong in Pennsylvania. As an experienced FELA accident injury lawyer, I am very concerned about these apparent safety lapses that appear to go to the heart of Amtrak’s systems. I welcome the improvements but believe more information needs to be disclosed about exactly what went wrong. If you have lost a loved one or if you have been injured while working on the railroad, you may have grounds to sue a railroad operator. Please contact us on the chat box on this site or call the number above.