OAKLAND (KCBS) – Bay Area Rapid Transit District has been cited by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) for “willful serious safety violations” that resulted in two workers being killed while working on the tracks near Walnut Creek in October 2013.
Cal/OSHA spokesman Peter Melton said they have fined the transit agency $210,000, issuing citations for three serious violations, after completing its investigation into the accident.
“BART has a system called simple approval for employees working on tracks. It puts the responsibility on them for their own safety,” Melton said. “And that is part of the reason why we issued those violations.”
Among the findings:
-Cal /OSHA found 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 and 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.
The accident occurred on October 19, as trains were being operated on a non-passenger basis during the BART strike. Sheppard and Daniels were working on the tracks near the Walnut Creek station when they were struck and killed.
BART has since suspended the “simple approval” process for track maintenance.
Melton said now that the citations have been issued, BART has the right to appeal them. If they decide to appeal, it will go to the appeals board.
BART General Manager Grace Crunican issued the following statement following the citations being issued.
“The BART family has spent the past six months mourning the loss of Christopher D. Sheppard and Laurence E. Daniels while making permanent changes to our safety procedures. Passenger and employee safety is our top priority at BART. BART has fundamentally upgraded its safety procedures with the implementation of an enhanced wayside safety program and a proposed budget investment of over $5 million in additional resources to bolster BART’s safety performance. Cal/OSHA has informed BART these changes correct the concerns which are at the heart of their citations, designating the issues as ‘abated,’ meaning that none are continuing violations or pose continuing safety hazards. In addition, BART has embraced comprehensive rail safety regulations adopted by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) impacting all rail transit agencies in California. These requirements will add extra procedures and protections for trackside crews during both operating and non-operating hours. Changes, which go into effect in May, include better communication between the Operation Control Center, train operators and work crews on the track; safety measures and reduced train speeds when workers are close by; and a mandatory watch person including during non-operating hours when maintenance vehicles are on the tracks working. BART’s Fiscal Year 2014-15 Preliminary Budget reflects our commitment to safety changes with increased resources and employees needed to implement the new safety procedures. The preliminary budget invests $5.3 million in additional positions in the Maintenance & Engineering, Transportation, and Safety Departments; additional equipment necessary to maintain track, traction power, and train control systems in proper working condition; enhanced monitoring; and a safety incentive program for frontline workers. BART is also awaiting the final report and recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) from its independent investigation of the tragic accident which occurred on October 19, 2013 in which two workers were killed. BART will work with the CPUC on any changes recommended by the NTSB. These safety enhancements may mean more delays for our riders and we ask for their patience and understanding. Nothing is more important than safety. A safer system for our employees will provide for a safer system for our riders and a better BART.”
Click here to view the official list of citations.