Archive for the ‘Close Call’ Category

Conductor’s quick action saves boy from being struck in Pa.

A boy’s life was saved Aug. 14 and a potential tragedy averted thanks to the fast-thinking actions of Mike Bobrosky III, a member of Local 1006 (Brownsville, Pa).

Bobrosky III

That morning, Reese Pearson, 9, who has autism, ran off from his home in Morgan Township, Pa. His mom immediately called police, according to reports from KDKA TV-2 in Pittsburgh, and authorities began to search the remote wooded area for Reese.

Down the hill from the home traveling the Norfolk Southern line toward Waynesburg, Pa., conductor Bobrosky and his engineer were traveling southbound. As their train approached Wayne Tunnel nears Waynesburg, Bobrosky said he saw something fouling the track ahead.

“We were coming around a bend. He was in the middle of the gauge inside the tunnel, and we dumped it into emergency,” he said.

The train stopped inside the tunnel, just short of hitting the boy.

“It was inches.”

After the train stopped, they alerted authorities, who had been searching for Reese for quite some time, and coaxed him aboard the locomotive. The hungry boy received a ride to the next crossing from the crew, where authorities were waiting and reunited Reese with his worried mother.

The alertness of Bobrosky and the action he and his engineer took saved a life that day and serves as yet another example of how having two people in the cabs of freight trains makes a difference in safety, contrary to carriers’ arguments.

“It was a right-hand curve – I saw him way before the engineer,” Bobrosky said. “If it was a one-man crew, I don’t know if the train would have stopped.

“It made a difference having two on the crew.”

NCTD joins with SMART TD, NASA & FRA to participate in C3RS program

The North County Transit District (NCTD) has teamed up with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to add an extra level of safety for its staff, contractors and the public. On August 1, 2019, NCTD entered into a partnership with NASA, the FRA, Bombardier Transportation USA, Inc., and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) to participate in the Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS) program.

C3RS is designed to improve railroad safety by collecting and analyzing reports that describe unsafe conditions or events in the railroad industry. Staff and contractors can report safety issues or “close calls” voluntarily and confidentially. A close call is any condition or event that may have the potential for more serious safety consequences such as a blue flag not removed after releasing railway construction equipment or failing to provide proper track protection during track maintenance. By analyzing these events, potential life-saving information can be obtained to help prevent more serious incidents in the future.

NASA took the lead on this program after developing and managing the highly successful Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) which began in 1976. ASRS has received over 1.2 million confidential reports from the aviation community resulting in numerous contributions to aviation safety. As an independent and respected research organization that does not have regulatory or enforcement interests, NASA serves as an objective and trustworthy recipient of reports submitted by railroad professionals.

By identifying close calls on or around the railroad tracks, participating agencies can identify why close calls may occur, recommend and implement corrective actions, and evaluate the effectiveness of any such action that was implemented.

C3RS is in addition and complementary to the many existing safety programs that NCTD currently has in place such as Positive Train Control, which is designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, derailments caused by excessive train speed, train movements through misaligned track switches and unauthorized train entry into work zones.

“Safety at NCTD is our top priority,” explains Matthew Tucker, NCTD Executive Director. “Having the opportunity to partner with a highly successful organization such as NASA to enhance our safety protocols was an easy decision for NCTD.”

Confidentiality is a key element of the C3RS program. Railroad personnel can submit reports when they are involved in or observe an incident or situation in which railroad safety might be compromised. All report submissions are voluntary. Reports sent to C3RS are held in strict confidence, and individuals who report are provided waivers from carrier discipline and FRA enforcement of qualifying events.

“Because of NASA’s strict confidentiality policy for these reports, it’s more likely that we’ll get accurate details about the incident,” says NCTD’s Chief Operations Officer-Rail Eric Roe. “Those details can lead to new safety measures that make the tracks safer for everyone on and around the rails.”

C3RS includes partners Bombardier Transportation and SMART. Bombardier Transportation is NCTD’s rail operations and maintenance contractor. SMART is the union that represents the conductors and engineers on NCTD’s San Diego Subdivision.

NCTD has become the ninth railroad carrier to participate in the C3RS program since its 2007 inception. Other participants include Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, MBTA/Keolis, Metra, Metro-North, New Jersey Transit, SEPTA, Strasburg Rail Road, Denton County Transportation Authority, North Shore Railroad Group, Belt Railway of Chicago – Operations and Belt Railway of Chicago Non-Ops. FRA is currently accepting new carriers into the program.

Click here for more information about the C3RS program.

SEPTA signs on for Confidential Close Call Reporting with SMART TD, BLET & FRA

In a press release, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) signed an Implementing Memorandum of Understanding (IMOU) with SMART TD Local 61, BLET and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for the Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS). Below is SEPTA’s press release:

PHILADELPHIA (December 12, 2016) – SEPTA, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), SMART United Transportation Union-Local 61 (SMART-UTU) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today signed an Implementing Memorandum of Understanding (IMOU) for the Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS).

As a C3RS site, SEPTA’s railroad conductors and engineers will be able to anonymously report near misses and unsafe conditions without fear of repercussion. SEPTA joins Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, Metra (Chicago), MBTA/Keolis (Boston), Long Island Railroad, Metro North and Strasburg Railroad (Strasburg, Pa) as carriers with C3RS IMOUs.

“Building a strong safety culture is a key organizational goal for SEPTA. We are always exploring ways to expand and enhance our programs,” said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey Knueppel. “As a C3RS site, we will be made aware of situations that we might not have been previously alerted to so that we can take action to prevent accidents and protect our employees and passengers.”

Under the C3RS system, SEPTA’s engineers and conductors will be able to submit a safety problem or close call online or through U.S. mail to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA, acting as an independent third party federal agency, gathers and analyzes all data for C3RS, removes employees’ names and contact information (these are required for the NASA portion of the investigation) and then returns the reports to a peer review team comprised of SEPTA managers, the unions and FRA for review and action.

“We are looking for conditions or close calls other than accidents or injuries that might not otherwise be reported to the FRA,” said SEPTA Assistant General Manager of System Safety Scott Sauer. “We are asking employees to report events that we might not otherwise know about, the warning signs and precursors that could lead to major safety risks and accidents.”

“C3RS, along with PTC [Positive Train Control] implementation, which is nearly complete on SEPTA territory, will greatly improve the safety of our system,” Knueppel said.

“Previously, employees may have been hesitant to report a close call, fearing disciplinary action for themselves or colleagues,” said Sauer. “When NASA returns the report to the peer review team, it is completely scrubbed of any employee information. We never know who submitted the information to NASA.”

For more information on C3RS, click here.

NJT mandates 2-person train crew for Hoboken and Atlantic City hubs

ABC News.com reported that following last week’s deadly New Jersey Transit crash in Hoboken that killed a woman standing on the platform and injured more than 100 commuters, NJT announced a new mandate that requires the presence of both the engineer and a conductor during the final phase of the commute, when the trains are pulling into NJT’s Hoboken or Atlantic City stations.  Read the complete article here.

Contact your elected officials in support of two-person crew legislation, through the SMART TD Legislative Action Center.

 

 

Confidential Close Call Reporting system expanding

C3RS_logoThe Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS) took a significant step forward Sept. 1 by expanding the geographic coverage for Amtrak train and engine workers from 10 Amtrak yard facilities to all Amtrak-owned and dispatched territory throughout the system.

The C3RS is a partnership between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Federal Railroad Administration, participating railroad carriers and labor organizations. It is designed to improve railroad safety by collecting and studying reports detailing unsafe conditions and events in the railroad industry. Employees will be able to report safety issues or “close calls” voluntarily and confidentially.

Examples of close calls include varying levels of risk, such as leaving pieces of equipment unsecured, improper blocking, operating trains beyond track authority or violating operating rules.

Informational rollout sessions have been ongoing in the Northeast Corridor. SMART Transportation Division Vice General Chairpersons Gary Hopson (Amtrak GO 663), Charlie Yura (Amtrak GO 769) and Salvador Ruiz (CSX GO 342) attended the opening event in Washington Aug. 6 and were provided the opportunity to address all in attendance. Present and speaking on behalf of Amtrak were President and CEO Joe Boardman and Vice President of Operations D.J. Stadtler. FRA Acting Associate Administrator Bob Lauby was present as FRA Administrator Joe Szabo was unable to attend.

“We are in favor of this reporting system on both sides, labor and management, and it is going to benefit our membership. This marks the beginning of a collaborative initiative that will reduce accidents and injuries in our industry,” Hopson said.

“This sort of program is going to be required by the FRA and all Class I railroads will eventually have to have a program that mimics the program we are following.”

The expansion will also include any tracks or facilities acquired by Amtrak in the future. Coverage will now be available for incidents that result in damage below the FRA monetary reporting threshold and which do not involve an injury, as long as there is compliance with the other provisions of the implementing memorandum of understanding.

Close Call went into effect February 2011. SMART Transportation Division Assistant President John Previsich spearheaded SMART’s involvement in the four C3RS pilot projects – systemwide on Amtrak and New Jersey Transit, at CP’s Portage, Wis., yard and UP’s North Platte, Neb., yard.

Confidential Close Call Reporting proving its worth

It’s confidential and no-fault.

And the result, according to the Federal Railroad Administration, is a significant reduction in rail workplace derailments that too often lead to serious injury and death — plus, as a bonus, better labor/management relationships and improved operational performance.

We’re talking about four pilot projects called Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS), whose core value is that railroaders don’t intentionally make mistakes, and the most effective means of correcting workplace errors that have the potential to cause death, injury and accidents is to investigate the cause in a non-judgmental environment.

In a review of C3RS pilot projects on Amtrak, Canadian Pacific, New Jersey Transit and Union Pacific, the FRA also determined they result in supervisors becoming “more fair and cooperative” and placing a greater value on safety relative to productivity, fewer discipline cases, and workers more willing to raise safety concerns with management.

C3RS is a collaborative effort involving the FRA, carriers, the UTU and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. 

The pilot projects encourage engineers, conductors, trainmen and yardmasters to report — without fear of discipline or FRA enforcement action, even if rules violations are involved — close calls that may have resulted in accidents or injuries.

All C3RS reports by employees are collected anonymously and kept confidential. With names and locations masked, a C3RS peer review team recommends corrective action, such as improved training, changes in physical plant, changes in existing federal safety laws or regulations, changes in carrier operating rules, and improved training and/or education.

Examples of close calls include varying levels of risk, such as leaving pieces of equipment unsecured, improper blocking, operating trains beyond track authority, or violating operating rules.

UTU International Vice President John Previsich spearheads the UTU involvement in the four C3RS pilot projects – systemwide on Amtrak and New Jersey Transit, and at CP’s Portage, Wis., yard, and UP’s North Platte, Neb., yard.

At UP, which has the most experience with  C3RS, the pilot project has led to reformatting track warrants so they are easier to read, and with a UP officer observing that C3RS “is helping UP move from a blame culture to one that bridges communication gaps between employees and management.”

BNSF conductor loses leg in yard accident

WILLMAR, Minn. — A 31-year old BNSF conductor , a UTU Local 1177 member, suffered a leg amputation in a yard accident here Feb. 3 — the second UTU member to endure such an accident in 2011.

Corey Lynn Kluver, the father of three young children, reportedly was making a cut of cars in a snow-covered yard when the accident occurred.

Kluver was airlifted to a local hospital after two surgeons arrived on the scene to free him. According to local news reports, hydraulic jacks were used to lift the rail car that pinned him.

UTU Minnesota State Legislative Director Phil Qualy said the issue of snow removal in the yard was raised with BNSF officials at a Jan. 21 safety meeting, and a letter had earlier been sent by Qualy to BNSF regarding snow removal in the yard.

In the earlier incident, Norfolk Southern conductor and Local 768 member Larry McVay, 43, lost an arm and a leg in a Jan. 3 switching accident at a yard in Lafayette, Ind.

Neither accident involved a remote control assignment.

Click on the link, below, for a message on yard safety. The UTU Transportation Safety Team recommends you print out the message and post on employee bulletin boards:

https://smart-union.org/news/tis-the-season-%e2%80%93-for-deadly-yard-accidents/

Close calls pilot tests positive on UP

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. — Union Pacific is four years into its five-year pilot Confidential Close Calls Reporting System (C3RS) and participants are giving it high marks for improving safety culture.

C3RS encourages engineers, conductors, trainmen and yardmasters to report close calls that may have resulted in accidents or injuries without fear of discipline or FRA enforcement action, even if rules violations are involved.

All C3RS reports by employees are collected anonymously and kept confidential.

The UP pilot program — one of four involving the UTU and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen — is supported by the Federal Railroad Administration.

Once confidential employee reports are submitted, they are examined confidentially by the U.S. DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, which removes all identifying information.

That information is then transmitted to the carrier, where a C3RS peer review team recommends corrective action, such as improved training, changes in physical plant, changes in existing federal safety laws or regulations, changes in carrier operating rules, improved training and/or education.

Examples of close calls include varying levels of risk, such as leaving pieces of equipment unsecured, improper blocking, operating trains beyond track authority, or violating operating rules.

Union Pacific says that such analysis “has spurred systemwide change,” including “reformatting track warrants so they are easier to read.”

A UP officer said that C3RS is helping UP move from a blame culture to one that bridges communication gaps between employees and management.

Other Confidential Close Calls Reporting System pilot projects are being conducted on Amtrak (systemwide), Canadian Pacific at Portage, Wisc., and New Jersey Transit (systemwide).

“Non-punitive reporting produces safety data that could not otherwise be obtained while helping to identify and mitigate risks before another serious incident occurs,” said UTU International Vice President John Previsich, who has been helping to design and implement C3RS pilot programs.

Alert commuter rail crew saves life near Boston

STOUGHTON, Mass. — An alert and ever vigilant Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad crew — that recognized the difference between a bag of clothes between the tracks and a human being — saved a life in this Boston suburb last week.

The MBCR crew, with engineer Chris Holm at the throttle and conductor John Gibbs (UTU Local 898) in charge, brought the six-car train to a halt after the locomotive’s headlight pierced the dark and illuminated what turned out to be an intoxicated man who had stumbled.

“He wasn’t coherent,” Gibbs told the Boston Herald. “He told me he wanted to rest. I said, ‘This isn’t the place to do it.’

“We’re trained to do this,” said Gibbs, age 54 and with 17 years of service as a conductor. “It’s good to know when it happens you can snap right to it.”

An MBCR spokesperson told the Herald, “It’s hardworking, quick-thinking men like Chris Holm and John Gibbs that show what an excellent job the men and women on the commuter rail do every day.”

Confidential close call reporting on Amtrak

The UTU’s fourth Federal Railroad Administration sponsored risk-reduction pilot project, known as “Confidential Close Call Reporting System” (C3RS), has been formalized in a memorandum of understanding among the UTU, Amtrak and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

 As its name implies, the pilot project permits conductors, engineers, trainmen and yardmasters to report — voluntarily, confidentially and without fear of carrier discipline or FRA enforcement action — close call events that might have resulted in an accident or injury.
 
Examples of close calls include varying levels of risk, such as leaving pieces of equipment unsecured, improper blocking, operating trains beyond track authority, or violating operating rules.

The close call events will be reported confidentially to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which has years of experience with similar risk-reduction projects. NASA will mask the identity of those involved before passing on the information for collaborative study among regional peer review teams selected from carrier management, the FRA, the UTU and the BLET.

The regional peer review teams will strive to identify risks that might be reduced or eliminated through corrective action, such as improved training, changes in physical plant, changes in existing federal safety laws or regulations, or changes in carrier operating rules.

The Amtrak Confidential Close Call Reporting System will be implemented nationwide at most Amtrak yard operations.

The UTU already is engaged in pilot confidential close call reporting projects with New Jersey Transit, systemwide; Union Pacific at North Platte, Neb.; and Canadian Pacific at Portage, Wis.

“Non-punitive reporting produces safety data that could not otherwise be obtained while helping to identify and mitigate risks before another serious incident occurs,” said UTU International Vice President John Previsich, who helped negotiate the Amtrak Confidential Close Call Reporting System memorandum of understanding on behalf of the UTU.

Previsich recognized the support and leadership, in their territories, of UTU General Chairpersons Roger Lenfest (GO 769) and Robert Keeley (GO 342).

UTU International President Mike Futhey praised Amtrak President Joseph Boardman for “his hands-on involvement and commitment in expanding this project nationwide on Amtrak.”

Separately, Amtrak has initiated another safety project — the Safe-2-Safer program — which examines Amtrak’s operating culture to identify improved leadership practices and workplace behavior that can improve workplace safety.

NJT inaugurates close call project

A confidential close call reporting system pilot project is up and running systemwide on New Jersey Transit, with the UTU, American Train Dispatchers Association and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen participating.

This is the first pilot project involving a passenger operation. NJT operates 794 commuter trains each weekday. The project does not apply to NJT trains operating over Amtrak and Conrail lines.

UTU members participating include more than 1,200 conductors, assistant conductors and yardmasters.

Sponsored by the Federal Railroad Administration, and administered by DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (for the purpose of compiling data), the project permits an employee to make a confidential report of safety concerns, and even violations of operating rules, while receiving immunity from sanction by the employer and the FRA.

The object is for otherwise unreported or underreported information on unsafe events to be made available for study by an on-property peer review team of labor, management and FRA representatives.

The analysis of this data will then be used to recommend corrective action, which might include new or improved training methods, changes in the physical plant, changes in existing federal safety laws or regulations, or changes in carrier operating rules.

“The involved labor organizations, NJT and U.S. DOT agencies worked closely to forge a quality memorandum of understanding to ensure the program will work on this property,” said UTU General Chairperson (NJT Local 60) Pat Reilly. “We all worked together with one goal in mind: a safer workplace.”

Reilly, a former accident investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board and also a former FRA safety inspector, said the project is “the best I have ever seen in my 38-year railroad career. I believe this project will identify and correct potential problems before they turn into major problems or possible accidents.”

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics ensures that the identity of those reporting close calls, as part of the project, remains confidential, including any information as to date or location of the event that could otherwise lead to identification of employees making the report.

The bureau operates under a federal statute that assures protection of the accumulated data from legal discovery, freedom of information requests, and even demands by other federal agencies to view the data.

A close call is defined by the FRA as “a situation in which an ongoing sequence of events was stopped from developing further, preventing the occurrence of potentially serious safety-related consequences. Personal injuries and/or reportable train accidents of any kind do not fall in the category of a close call.”

Examples of close calls include running through a yard switch that does not result in a train accident, improper blocking, and a train in non-signal territory that proceeds beyond its authority.

The UTU is participating in similar pilot projects already in place on Union Pacific in North Platte, Neb., and Canadian Pacific in Portage, Wisc. The UP project is in its third year, and the CP project is in its second year.