State laws Utilities Transportation Injury prevention

California adopts safety rules for rail-transit roadway workers

San Francisco – California on Oct. 31 adopted “comprehensive” safety rules for roadway workers who perform maintenance and repairs on or near rail transit tracks.

The California Public Utilities Commission approved the rules, which were based on recommendations developed following a series of 12 incidents involving rail-transit roadway workers between 2006 and 2008. According to the commission’s Safety and Enforcement Division, the new safety rules are necessary because only roadway workers who are employed by freight railroads and certain passenger railroads are covered by comprehensive federal safety regulations.

Under the rules, California rail transit agencies must establish new safety training programs; personal protective clothing requirements; written flagging procedures near rail-transit tracks; and research and implementation plans for worker safety technologies such as positive train control.

The commission also adopted new safeguards prompted by an Oct. 19 Bay Area Rapid Transit incident that killed two roadway workers who were inspecting tracks. The safeguards include requirements for a watchperson to be present for rail-transit work and for additional communication among train operators and rail staff.