NTSB issues safety alert on MOW workers, train watchmen

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WASHINGTON — Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have issued a new safety alert warning maintenance-of-way workers of the risks of working on tracks using only a watchman.

Safety alert No. 066 applies to situations where track gangs are only using a watchman or lookout person to provide warning that a train is approaching. The alert is in response to a January 2017 incident in Edgemont, S.D., in which two track workers were killed after being struck by a BNSF Railway train.

NTSB investigators determined the sight distance used by watchman or a lookout person is only about half the distance required by Federal Railroad Administration regulations. The FRA requires track workers to be able to clear the right-of-way at least 15 seconds prior to a train moving at maximum authorized speed can pass through the work zone.

“The accident cited in this safety alert, and other recent similar accidents, warrant a reminder to railroad employees to remain vigilant for approaching trains – whether they are the watchman-lookout or whether they are working on the tracks,” says NTSB Acting Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt.

In addition to its safety alert, the agency also opened the docket for the Edgemont investigation regarding January’s incident in South Dakota.

See the news release online.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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