railroad crossing

In late October, the National Transportation Safety Board sent a report and letter to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association requesting that the Association provide details of actions that have been taken or will be taken in response to significant safety issues identified as part of an investigation into a rail worker fatality. The short line railroad worker was killed in an accident in Houston, Texas in 2021 and the NTSB conducted a comprehensive investigation into the accident.

The NTSB found that the Watco employee was not provided with adequate protection when riding a shove movement through highway-railroad grade crossing that were equipped only with flashing lights, or passive warning devices.

The NTSB noted that there were two similar accidents where railroad workers were killed when riding shoving movement through passive highway-railroad grade crossings. These incidents happened in Northlake, Illinois (Union Pacific) and Cleveland, Ohio (Norfolk Southern).

Watco changed its internal rules after the employee fatality, but the NTSB requested that the Short Line Association inform all of its member short lines about the report and recommendations. The Association has until late January to respond.

In addition to the request to the Short Line Association, the NTSB has recommended that the FRA revise the regulations to require ground protection for safe movement across the grade crossing. The Safety Board concluded that this ground protection will ensure trains do not enter crossings until it is clearly seen by the train crew that no traffic is approaching or stopped at the crossing. Railroad employees located on the end of the train during some shoving movements were noted to be particularly vulnerable to being injured by traffic at these passive crossings.

If you or a loved one were injured on-the-job at the railroad, please contact us today to discuss your legal rights.