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On April 3, 2015, at 9:23 p.m. central daylight time, a Railroad Switching Services crew—a locomotive operator and a ground person—was moving 34 railroad cars onto yard track 4 at the Evergreen Packaging plant in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. After moving the train about three-car lengths without receiving radio commands from the ground person, the operator stopped the train and disembarked. He found the ground person under the ninth car. The ground person died at the scene.
TO THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: Review and evaluate the notifications received from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and use the information contained in them to modify the National Inspection Plan to include more plant railroads in your routine inspections.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action
Pine Bluff, AR, United States
Railroad Switching Services Employee Fatality
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FRA (Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action)
Safety Recommendation History
We note that you have taken an alternate approach to implementing this recommendation. Rather than working to manipulate data received from OSHA inspectors, you decided to collaborate proactively with them, offering training to help the inspectors collect the needed data during their initial facility inspections. We believe that this is an acceptable alternate method of satisfying the intent of Safety Recommendation R-18-9, which is classified CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE ACTION.
-From Ronald L. Batory, Administrator: In response to a recommendation from the Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General, FRA created the National Inspection Plan (NIP) to use available data to focus the agency's inspection activities. The NIP allows FRA to better target effo1ts where it can have the greatest impact on rail safety. Including more plant railroads in FRA's routine inspections would not have an overall benefit for rail safety because of the relatively low number of serious and fatal accidents on plant railroads 1 compared to the general railroad system of transportation (general system) and the safety provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) regulation and enforcement in plants. Further, including more plant railroads in FRA's routine inspections would correspondingly reduce inspections of the general system where rail accidents are more prevalent. Improving safety is FRA's top priority and we are committed to working with the NTSB to prevent accidents and save lives. Accordingly, FRA has closely considered the intent of R-18-09 and the full accident report, RAB-18-03 , and FR.A_ has developed an alternative approach to address the NTSB's concern. Rather than include more plant railroads in FRA's inspection program, FRA has already agreed to assist OSHA staff in recognizing potential violations of Federal railroad safety regulations revealed during their investigations of employee protections (under 49 U.S.C. 20109). FRA and OSHA have a longstanding, positive working relationship, and the two agencies communicate regularly as a natural part of their overlapping or interconnected work. In addition, FRA will extend oversight training opportunities to industries involved with railroad safety that don't fall under FRA's jurisdiction or don't receive frequent FRA inspector visits. In particular, FRA offers continuing education classes to its inspectors through its Technical Training and Standards Division (TTSD) in Pueblo, CO, with a continuous improvement approach to recognize noted safety discrepancies and/or noncompliance with Federal regulations. This training may assist current safety managers, managers of operations, and others involved in safety oversight in recognizing any non-compliance of safety rules occurring in that industry and to take action to correct the non-compliance. As a result, FRA will allow non-FRA staff in these classes to participate in this valuable training. Given FRA's actions described within this response, FRA respectfully asks that the NTSB classify recommendation R-18-09 as "Closed-Reconsidered" or "Closed-Alternative Acceptable Action." I appreciate your interest in these important safety issues.
-From Karl Alexy, Deputy Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety: Thank you for the report, Railroad Switching Services Employee Fatality, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, which was sent to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on March 6, 2018. In the "Safety Recommendations" section of the report, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued Safety Recommendation R-18-09 to FRA. Improving safety is FRA's top priority, and FRA will continue to work to make rail shipments as safe as possible. FRA is committed to working with NTSB to prevent future accidents and save lives. FRA welcomes and will consider all recommendations that will further that goal.
On March 1, 2018, the NTSB adopted its accident brief, Railroad Switching Services Employee Fatality, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, April 3, 2015, RAB-18/03. The details of this accident brief and the resulting safety recommendations may be found in the accident brief, which can also be accessed at http://www.ntsb.gov. Among the safety recommendations is one issued to the Federal Railroad Administration, which can be found on page 10 of the report. The NTSB is vitally interested in these recommendations because they are designed to prevent accidents and save lives. We would appreciate a response within 90 days, detailing the actions you have taken or intend to take to implement these recommendations. When replying, please refer to the safety recommendations by number. We encourage you to submit your response to email@example.com. If it exceeds 10 megabytes, including attachments, please e-mail us at the same address for instructions. Please do not submit both an electronic copy and a hard copy of the same response.
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