Photograph showing the front and right sides of the spiker on the main level

​​Spiker 2 at the accident scene. The front of the spiker is to the right.

Norfolk Southern Railway Contract Roadway Worker Fatality

What Happened

​On December 8, 2021, about 11:20 a.m. local time, a National Salvage and Service Corporation worker who was part of a Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) work gang was struck and killed by a roadway maintenance machine (RMM) on a main track in Reed, Pennsylvania. Three RMMs, or spikers, were driving railroad spikes into crossties when the middle spiker (Spiker 2) reversed direction. The operator reported that he blew the spiker’s horn and looked in the mirror before reversing but did not see the National Salvage contract worker standing behind the spiker.

What We Found

​​We determined that the probable cause of the Reed, Pennsylvania, accident was the inability of the spiker operator to see the contract worker behind the spiker and the contract worker not being alerted by the spiker’s nonfunctional horn and change-of-direction alarms. Contributing to the accident was (1) NS’s preshift inspection that did not check the audibility of the spiker’s alerts above ambient noise; (2) Nordco Inc. allowing the spikers to leave the factory without assuring the change-of-direction alarm was working; and (3) insufficient standoff distance chosen by Norfolk Southern Railway that did not provide adequate visibility behind the spiker.

What We Recommended

​We recommended that the Federal Railroad Administration require all new and all rebuilt and remanufactured RMMs to be equipped with backup cameras. We also recommended that all Class I railroads equip new and existing RMMs with backup cameras and that the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association advise its members of this accident and of the importance of adding backup cameras to new and existing RMMs. Furthermore, we recommended that the Federal Railroad Administration inform railroads of the need to determine the appropriate standoff distance for all RMMs.​