Federal agencies Rail Transportation

Transit agency aims to make workers safer near train tracks

Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Washington — The Federal Transit Administration is accepting comment on a proposed rule that would establish mandatory minimum safety standards for rail transit employees who work on or near tracks.

Published March 25, the proposal would direct rail transit agencies to install multiple track worker protections, including “the right to challenge and refuse in good faith any assignment based on on-track safety concerns and resolve such challenges and refusals promptly and equitably.”

Other requirements would include:

  • Establishing a roadway worker protection program to prevent incidents, fatalities and injuries to workers who access areas on and along tracks.
  • Setting minimum requirements for RWP programs, such as job safety briefings and lone worker protection.
  • Requiring workers to report unsafe actions, conditions and near misses related to RWP programs.

An FTA press release cites data from the National Transit Database showing that 22 deaths and 120 serious injuries occurred among workers on or along rail-transit tracks between Jan. 1, 2008, and Oct. 31, 2022.

The agency issued a Request for Information on ways to improve track worker safety in September 2021.

“This rule will ultimately save lives,” acting FTA Administrator Veronica Vanterpool said in the release. “Once this rule is finalized, it will support safer conditions for workers who perform critical tasks that keep transit operating efficiently and safely.”

The Transport Workers Union of America supports the proposal.

“This is a massive breakthrough, an unprecedented leap forward in terms of worker safety,” TWU International President John Samuelsen said in a release. “Instead of being neutral, the FTA is saying it intends to be an active ally in our efforts to protect workers who do inherently dangerous jobs on and along the tracks.”

Comments are due May 24.

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