FRA alert warns railroad workers about mobile device distraction

Washington – A safety alert issued Aug. 30 by a Federal Railroad Administration committee warns workers who install and maintain rails and signaling devices about the risks of using mobile electronic devices on or near rails.

According to the alert, devices such as cell phones and tablet devices can distract rail workers during safety-critical tasks and have been attributed to fatalities on railroads and at railroad crossings. FRA’s Fatality Analysis of Maintenance-of-way Employees and Signalmen Committee provided the following recommendations:

  • Do not use mobile electronic devices when operating rail equipment or standing within striking distance of an oncoming train or equipment on a rail.
  • Refrain from using mobile electronic devices when performing tasks such as providing warnings for roadway workers about oncoming trains or rail equipment.
  • Put away devices during safety briefings so that you are not distracted from hearing important information.

The alert also recommends that railroad employers provide workers with clear guidelines on when, where and under what conditions, if any, it is safe to use mobile electronic devices while at work.