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3 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION According to the FTA's Fall 2008 Rail Transit Safety Quarterly workers from being struck by a moving train or piece of Newsletter, between 2003 and 2008 the nation's heavy rail maintenance equipment. transit systems experienced eight accidents that resulted in the deaths of 10 right-of-way (ROW) workers, including track The initial panel discussion determined that the study inspectors, track workers, and signal technicians, resulting in should address both heavy rail and light rail modes of transit. a 300% increase in the rate of fatalities and injuries from their The literature review and agency interviews revealed that historic average in the heavy rail industry. In 2010 two more modal delineations in track worker protection and overall rail transit ROW workers lost their lives when they were struck safety programs are less relevant than an approach that con- by a high-rail vehicle. siders a transit agency's infrastructure and operations and the hazards associated with employees and contractors working Of the 19 worker fatalities reported to the National Transit safely within those parameters. The key considerations are Database (2003 to 2008) for rail transit, 17 were reported for listed here. heavy rail service and two for light rail service. Over half of those fatalities reported occurred on the ROW. This is in Environmental Factors addition to the track worker injuries and close calls that occurred on the ROW during the period. Environmental factors are any characteristics of the ROW or infrastructure that create a hazardous condition limiting a This study focuses on the practices implemented by several worker's ability to clear the track in the event of train or other rail transit agencies to establish or improve track worker safety equipment or vehicle movement. Areas requiring special protection programs. attention include: Tunnels. This environment, regardless of mode, presents PROJECT OBJECTIVES AND BACKGROUND a variety of hazardous conditions, including limited The objectives of this study are to report the state of knowl- light and therefore visibility; limited sight distances; tight edge and practice regarding wayside worker protection clearances; and acoustic conditions that can amplify, programs at selected transit agencies and to document the deaden, or misdirect the sounds of oncoming trains. state of the practice, including lessons learned and gaps in ROW bridges and elevated structures. Although the information. diminished light and acoustic problems inherent in tunnels are not found in these areas, the hazards of tight Improved safeguards and safety procedures can reduce clearances, combined with the need for prevention of accidents and fatalities for rail transit wayside workers across falls and often amplified weather conditions, particularly North America. This study identifies successful practices in wind and ice, present a unique set of hazards. track worker protection that could serve as models or foun- Tight or blind curves. Regardless of whether eight-car dations for programs developed at the system- or industry- heavy rail trains are operating in revenue service or wide level. high-rail equipment is moving to or from a work site, the limited sight distance in tight or blind curves--above The discussion of effective safety practices begins with an and below ground--presents a potentially very dangerous understanding of the hazards facing rail transit ROW workers. condition. There are myriad potentially dangerous conditions present Multiple track ROWs. Most systems are configured with on the ROW, including slip, trip, and fall hazards; energized a two-track main line; only one of the systems studied power; tight and dark working environments; and elevated has sections with three or four running tracks. That work zones. However, the most injurious and fatal hazard to configuration allows maintenance and construction ROW workers continues to be the movement of trains and planners and supervisors to work with transportation equipment through work areas. Although all of the agencies and operations personnel to explore ways in which a included in the study have rules and practices to address the work site can be bypassed using a local or express track. range of hazards, the focus of their programs is on protecting But the configuration presents a more dynamic and