QUEENS VILLAGE, N.Y. — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ruled that the warning signal given to the foreman and two other railroad workers inspecting the tracks was insufficient, according to an article appearing in Mass Transit Magazine. The NTSB published its final report and conclusions on May 14. The fatal crash happened on June 10, 2017, in Queens Village, New York when a foreman was run down by a train operated by the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). In its final report, the NTSB concluded that using the method of warning workers about approaching trains used by the management of the LIRR did not take into account all of the hazards to which railroad workers are exposed. The NTSB offered suggestions to increase the safety of LIRR workers.
The train accident occurred while the foreman who was killed and his crew of four additional railroad workers were inspecting the LIRR tracks at a junction called Queens Village Interlocking. Trains travel fast through Queens Village Interlocking in both directions. Consequently, one person, per LIRR safety protocols, stays off the of tracks during an inspection and carries a handheld horn.
The NTSB explained that one train was passing the workers while another approached. The workers were inspecting an interchange when the watchman sounded the warning and held up a sign to communicate with the engineer of the approaching train to sound the train’s warning horn. Three of the workers remained in place, but the foreman stepped onto track three instead of remaining on track one. The LIRR train was traveling 78 miles per hour when the engineer hit the train’s emergency brakes immediately before hitting the foreman.
The NTSB concluded that the watchman should have given the workers a warning long before the train reached their location. An advanced warning would have permitted all of the workers to clear all of the tracks before the train reached them. The NTSB also concluded that the foreman and watchman did not have enough rest before the accident because of overtime shift work.
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