January 9, 2012
NTSB Number: RAB-13-04
Adopted: August 30, 2013
On Monday, January 9, 2012, at 11:09 a.m. central standard time, a BNSF Railway (BNSF) welding foreman on yard track No. 1805 near Amarillo, Texas, was struck and killed by a J6 rail grinding machine.
The grinding machine was operated by a Loram crew consisting of a superintendent field operations/equipment operator, a general laborer (Loram laborer), a crew chief, and a safety coordinator. At the time of the accident, the crew chief was getting parts for the equipment and was not at the accident location.
A Loram general laborer said that the welding foreman had given a hand signal for a reverse-movement to the machine operator, and then the foreman walked across the north rail into the center of the track to the derail on the south rail. The foreman crouched down with his back to the grinding machine to unlock the derail and remove it from the south rail to allow the reverse movement. When the operator realized that the welding foreman was in the gage of the track, he could not stop the equipment before it struck the welding foreman. (See figure 1 for a side view of the grinding machine in relation to the derail location and distance traveled after the accident.)
The welding foreman was part of a two-member BNSF track maintenance crew consisting of himself, who was the roadway worker in charge of the rail grinding operation at the time of the accident, and a laborer (BNSF laborer). However, the BNSF laborer had called the welding foreman earlier that day to say that he was going to arrive at the worksite late, and he was not on site at the time of the accident.
The weather at the time of the accident was about 37˚F and clear. The wind direction was to the northeast and about 5 mph.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the BNSF welding foreman’s entering the gage of the track in front of the moving Loram grinding machine. Contributing to the accident was Loram’s ineffective training on the operating rules governing point protection and signaling of equipment movement.