The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently issued its final report regarding the 2017 death of a railroad roadway worker who was struck and killed by a train in Queens Village, New York ().
The accident happened when a Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) train encountered a crew of roadway workers, accompanied by a watchman, in the Queens Interlocking. Upon observing the train’s approach, the watchman sounded a handheld horn, shouted to the other workers, and raised a paddle to signal the LIRR’s engineer to activate the train’s horn. Despite these warnings, a worker stepped into the path of the oncoming train, which was traveling 78 mph, and was killed.
In its report, the NTSB found the train approach warning method especially dangerous for the crew in this situation for the following reasons:
- multiple tracks at the interlocking
- trains operating at high speeds in both directions
- limited areas to clear trains
- increased train traffic due to the Belmont Stakes
The NTSB concluded that the watchman should have provided timely warning of approaching trains so that all workers could completely clear the tracks before the train’s arrival.
“Using the train approach warning method, LIRR management did not properly assess the hazards the roadway workers were exposed to while conducting their tasks,” NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt said. “If adopted, the recommendations highlighted in this report can help to mitigate the risks associated with this work and provide better protection to workers across all railroads.”
Overtime work schedules without proper mitigation of workers’ risk of fatigue also contributed to the accident. The deceased and the watchman had both worked consecutive overtime shifts during the 48-hour period prior to the accident.
The NTSB issued five safety recommendations:
- roadway worker protection
- roadway worker on-track safety briefings
- management oversight
- FRA oversight
- worker fatigue
The NTSB is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families. Their final report can be found at https://go.usa.gov/xvMcv.
If you have been injured in a railroad accident, it is critical that you hire an experienced attorney. Please call DBJ today at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation.