Rail news release 2012

Lack of adequate safety watch leads to rail employee fatality

Gatineau, Quebec, 26 September 2012 — A Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigation (R11T0161) into the 14 July 2011 fatality of a CN employee has revealed that the inappropriate use of safety watch protection was one of the factors that contributed to the accident. The accident occurred last summer near Durham Junction, Ontario, and took the life of a CN Engineering Services employee who, along with a co-worker, was making repairs to a section of the Kingston Subdivision track. The employee was struck by a VIA Rail train.

Safety watch protection encompasses a set of requirements that ensure someone always remains in a position to immediately warn by physical means the employees they are protecting of any approaching rail traffic. It also ensures that the entire crew has an understanding of what work is to be performed and how, where the safety watch is to be positioned, how the warning is to be given, and how the area will be cleared of workers and tools.

As with all accidents the TSB investigates, there are multiple contributing factors to this accident. In this case, the crew elected to proceed with the work despite not having enough employees to provide a dedicated safety watch and not having the minimum sight line to safely apply the safety watch procedure. Focused on their work, the crew was unaware of the approaching VIA Rail train.

Following this accident, CN has introduced a more rigorous "Safety Watch" training initiative and has re-trained more than 3000 CN Engineering Services employees on its use. The company has also improved the safety watch procedure by: updating the sight line distance / time chart to include the time employees need to clear the track; developing a list of activities that can be performed under safety watch protection; and developing a safety watch job aid and training course for all Engineering Services employees.

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