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January 19, 2019

Long Island Rail Road safety lapses had role in train foreman’s death

By Michael H. Joseph

Our personal injury lawyers who represent injured workers know that worker fatalities are preventable. Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) management doesn’t encourage its workers to follow safety rules, and that contributed to the death of a train foreman last summer stated by federal investigators.

The LIRR foreman and a group of workers were walking along tracks in Queens Village  as a train approached from behind.  A watchman warned them, but because the agency didn’t have a designated safety spot, the workers were unsure where to go, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found.  Most of the workers stayed put, but the foreman jumped onto another track, into the path of the train, which was traveling at 78 mph. The foreman, whose name was not released by the MTA or the NTSB, died at the scene.  The employees should have cleared the tracks and had a “predetermined place of safety,” but they didn’t, the NTSB found.  The investigators issued an “urgent” safety recommendation directing the MTA, which runs the LIRR, to get its act together.

The NTSB is concerned LIRR management is overlooking and, therefore, normalizing noncompliance with safety rules and regulations for proper clearing of tracks while using ‘train approach warning’ for worker protection,” investigators said in the report. However, LIRR officials have embraced the suggested changes.

The safety of employees and customers should be the absolute top priority for everyone at the MTA.  Sen. Chuck Schumer wants the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to get moving when it comes to safety measures.

The word is the MTA is going to seek another extension, so they don’t have to install it by the deadline of 2018. However, Schumer said that “This is unacceptable because safety has to come first. We want our trains to be on time, we want our trains to be clean, but above all we want our trains to be safe. And if people don’t think they’re safe they’re not going to take them.”

We agree that there was “simply no reason” for the MTA to delay on installing Positive Train Control technology before the Dec. 31, 2018 deadline. PTC, a system designed to automatically stop trains before they crash or derail, was supposed to be operational by Dec. 31, 2015, under federal law but that deadline was extended to at least three years.

 

 
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