SMART labor union says unsafe conditions at CSX led to severe injury

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The SMART Transportation Division labor union is calling out CSX Transportation for what is alleges as unsafe operating conditions that led to a serious injury at the railroad’s Radnor Yard in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this week.

According to the union’s letter addressed to CSX Chief Operating Officer Cindy Sanborn, a CSX employee was seriously injured on Monday afternoon while working a local yard job in Radnor. The union alleges the incident occurred during totality of Monday’s eclipse at a time when two yard jobs were switching side-by-side.

SMART Transportation Division officials representing GO-513 say the yard jobs were also switching cars while on two different radio channels and were engaging in a new operational switching practices.

The union states that railroad managers recently decided to stop flat switching in Radnor’s C Yard area due to the high rate of speed of railcars rolling into the tracks. Radnor was previously a major hump yard. As a result, managers restructured local yard operations so that local crews are switching from one of Radnor’s lead tracks near the throat of the yard.

The new lead tracks allegedly involve uphill movements where locomotives have to use higher throttle positions. The union reports that by the time a cut of cars is rolling and the slack is running out, train crew members have to run in order to pull the pin.

The union says it has sent its concerns to railroad management regarding the new operating practice. The union believes the track configuration in this area is not ideal for flat switching, which it believes poses a risk to conductors and other employees working on the ground in the area.

According to the union, Monday’s incident wasn’t just caused by restructured yard operations, but also by Monday’s total eclipse.

Union officials argue that railroad crews were never given any instructions on having lights on during the eclipse, nor to stop operations for a few minutes during the eclipse’s dark period. The union believes these conditions led to Monday’s incident.

According to the letter, the employee was snagged by a passing railcar and sustained serious injuries while working in close proximity to two trains.

Furthermore, the union alleges that railroad crews tending to the injured employee were unable to contact management at Radnor Tower to get help and contact first responders. The letter states that local crews, mainline trains, and even a train dispatcher tried to contact Radnor Tower to get help, but they received no response.

The union’s letter claims the reason for receiving no response was because all of Radnor’s management team and yardmasters were standing outside to watch the solar eclipse.

The union concluded its letter with references to a cultural disconnect between the company and its employees, noting the discontinuation of safety committees and an overall lack of transparency in addressing safety concerns and working together.

Trains News Wire reached out to CSX Transportation in response to the union’s letter.

“The safety of CSX’s employees and the communities where we operate is our highest priority. Our goal is zero accidents and even one employee injury is one too many,” says CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle.

“We work to achieve our safety objectives through comprehensive training programs, regular communication and other efforts to strengthen our culture of safety,” Doolittle adds.

“The circumstances of the incident that occurred at Radnor Yard in Nashville on Monday, August 21, are under review.”

Trains News Wire also reached out to SMART Transportation Division for comment, to which a union spokeswoman directed the request for comment to the general chairperson of GO-513.

News Wire had not heard from the general chairperson as of Friday morning.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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  • August 25, 2017
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