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FRA to railroad employers: Remember that OSHA regs may apply

railroad safety

Photo: Washington State Department of Transportation

Washington – A recent safety advisory from the Federal Railroad Administration reminds railroads, railroad contractors and their respective employees to remain cautious during work that falls outside the scope of the agency’s safety regulations but within the jurisdiction of OSHA.

From 2000 to 2015, more than 60 railroad workers have been killed while performing work not covered by FRA safety regulations, according to the agency. Factors and actions that may have contributed to the deaths include ascending or descending; falling objects; electrocution; slips, trips and falls; and highway vehicle collisions. The National Transportation Safety Board discussed fatalities in the industry in 2014 and emphasized that OSHA regulations may apply to railroads and railroad contractors.

FRA issued four recommendations in its safety advisory:

  • Develop hazard-recognition strategies identifying and addressing existing conditions posing actual or potential safety hazards, emphasizing the contributing factors or actions involved in roadway worker-related fatalities occurring since 2000.
  • Provide annual training to roadway workers on the use of hazard-recognition strategies developed by the railroad or the railroad contractor.
  • Institute procedures for mandatory job safety briefings compliant with OSHA’s regulations prior to initiating any roadway worker activity.
  • Develop and apply Good Faith Challenge Procedures for roadway workers who believe a task is unsafe or an identified hazard has not been mitigated.

“FRA encourages railroad and railroad contractor industry members to take actions consistent with the preceding recommendations and any other actions that may help ensure the safety of roadway workers,” the agency stated in a notice published in the Nov. 28 Federal Register. “Although the primary purpose of this Safety Advisory is for railroads and railroad contractors to apply these recommendations to activities that fall outside the scope of FRA’s safety regulations, FRA also encourages the industry to apply these recommendations to activities FRA’s regulations govern.”

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