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Speeches

Board Meeting Special Investigation Report on Rail Roadway Worker Protection, Acting Chairman's Closing Statement
Christopher A. Hart
Washington, DC
9/24/2014

In closing, I want to recognize the NTSB staff for their hard work in bringing this Special Investigation Report to the Board. The report team under Investigator-In-Charge Tim DePaepe did an outstanding job.
Today's presentations have provided valuable insight into the safety issues faced by roadway workers. The many recommendations we have adopted today can make roadway safety more consistent and more predictable in this always potentially hazardous environment.
We have asked for comprehensive job briefings that include hazard recognition and mitigation, and we have recommended that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) require initial and recurrent training in hazard recognition and mitigation for roadway workers.
Roadway workers face similar risks whether they are regulated by the FRA or the FTA. We have asked that safety rules be harmonized in recognition of this fact, and that FTA establish roadway worker protection rules with the help of the FRA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
To make certain that we get the best data on roadway worker accidents, we have asked the FAMES committee to expand the scope of their publications data on all roadway worker fatalities. And to make certain that good data are available regarding accidents affecting transit workers, we have asked for the creation of a body analogous to FAMES for transit rail.
We have made other recommendations asking for clearer lines of authority for the OSHA and the FRA. And we have asked for Union participation in FRA and FTA accident investigations to bring operation-specific expertise.
It is our hope that the appropriate organizations will act on today's recommendations. Those recommendations, if implemented, can reinforce safer roadway operations on all our railways and transit railways.
But in addition to all of the recommendations we adopted today that are directed at organizations, I would like to direct a plea drawn from this report's findings to any roadway worker who hears my voice or reads these words:
Be your brother's and sister's keeper. Be their reminder. Have their backs. It might mean saving their lives, and it might mean that they can help save yours.
Identify a hazard even if it slows down a job. Talk over hazards persistently until you work out the ways to reduce your risk on the job.
In another mode of transportation, aviation, this principle of accountability between crew members has become standard: The crew must all be accountable to each other and communicate hazards for flights to be safe.
In recent years we have lost too many good people on the wayside – notwithstanding that inspections have turned up fewer defects and fewer violations.
One of our recommendations today is to bolster the FRA's national inspection program.
But at the end of the day, it is the individual roadway worker who has to make it back home.
At the end of the day, if you're a roadway worker, your safety, and your co-worker's safety, will always be in your hands.
Your railroads, regulators and unions – working together – can provide better rules, training, and inspections. But they cannot replace your vigilance or your watchful eye on the tracks.
We stand adjourned.