FRA: Switching operation fatalities have decreased

August 12, 2010

The railroad industry has seen a significant decline in fatalities involving switching operations since a workplace safety group issued safety recommendations in 1999, according to preliminary findings in a report (.pdf file) released Aug. 10 by the Federal Railroad Administration.

The report analyzed the efforts of the Switching Operations Fatality Analysis Working Group -- a workplace safety partnership that examines factors contributing to fatalities in switching operations. SOFA recently analyzed 54 fatalities involving train and engine service employees who died while engaged in rail yard switching operations from January 2004 to November 2009.

The report concluded that the SOFA 2010 Working Group's tools and processes are systematic and rigorous; and evaluators urged the railroad industry to give careful consideration to the new findings of the working group in the interest of improving rail yard safety in the years ahead.

In its 1999 report, SOFA identified five operating recommendations that have significantly helped decrease the number of fatalities related to switching operations, according to an FRA press release.