Cal/OSHA Fines BART $210,000 in 2013 Accident that Killed 2 Transit Workers

Cal/OSHA Fines BART $210,000 in 2013 Accident that Killed 2 Transit Workers



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CONCORD, Calif., April 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Cal/OSHA cited
Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) today for willful serious safety
violations that resulted in two workers being killed by a fast-moving train in
Walnut Creek last October. The citations carry proposed penalties totaling
$210,000.

 


Cal/OSHA issued the citations for three willful serious violations after its
investigation found the following:

 


  • The two workers who were killed, Christopher D. Sheppard and Laurence E.
    Daniels, did not meet the qualifications to perform work near hazardous
    energized third-rails. Sheppard was a BART special projects manager, Daniels
    was a contractor and consulting engineer.


  • A trainee was at the controls when the accident occurred—his trainer, a
    high-ranking transportation manager, was seated in the passenger car with
    other BART managers and another trainee. He could not view the track from
    his vantage point in the passenger car.


  • BART’s “simple approval” procedures for employees working on the tracks were
    both inadequate and not followed.

 


“Employers in California must comply with safety standards to protect their
employees, and diligence is vital in hazardous working conditions,” said
Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR).
Cal/OSHA is a division of DIR.   

 


When the accident occurred on October 19, trains were being operated on a
non-passenger basis. BART train 963, a four-car train operating in automatic
mode traveling at more than 65 miles per hour with an inexperienced
operator-in-training at the controls, was proceeding to its destination of
Pleasant Hill station around 1:45 p.m. The high-ranking manager designated as
the trainer was seated in the passenger area with three BART managers and
another trainee instead of maintaining a position next to the trainee in the
control cab. Although he could see the trainee at the controls from behind the
open control cab door, the trainer was not located in a position to closely view
the trainee’s actions and observe the track. The trainee saw the workers and was
attempting to sound the horn and stop the train when the workers were struck.

 


“Employers have a responsibility to ensure worker safety,” said Acting Cal/OSHA
Chief Juliann Sum. “Safety standards are designed to save lives and they were
not followed.”

 


BART had its “simple approval” authorization process in place at the time of the
accident, which made employees working on train tracks responsible for their own
safety. On two previous occasions, in 2001 and 2008, employees were fatally
injured while operating under “simple approval” authorization. Cal/OSHA issued
citations after investigations of both incidents. The day after the 2013
fatality accident, BART suspended the “simple approval” process for track
maintenance.

 


Cal/OSHA issues citations for serious workplace safety violations when there is
a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm could result from
the actual hazard created by the violation. The violation is classified as
willful when an employer is aware that a hazardous condition exists and no
reasonable effort is made to eliminate the hazard.

 


Cal/OSHA helps protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job in
almost every workplace in California. Employers who want to learn more about
California workplace health and safety standards or labor law violations can
access information on DIR’s website as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

 


Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Program provides free and voluntary assistance to
employers and employee organizations to improve their health and safety
programs. Employers should call (800) 963-9424 for assistance from the Cal/OSHA
Consultation Program.

 


Employees with work-related questions or complaints may call the toll-free
California Workers’ Information Line at (866) 924-9757 for recorded information,
in English and Spanish, on a variety of work-related topics. Complaints can also
be filed confidentially with Cal/OSHA District Offices.


 


SOURCE  California Department of Industrial Relations, Cal/OSHA

Cal/OSHA Fines BART $210,000 in 2013 Accident that Killed 2 Transit Workers