The National Transportation Safety Board issued Railroad Accident Report 20/02 Thursday [August 27, 2020], detailing its investigation of the March 12, 2018, fatal injury of a CSX Transportation equipment operator near Wartrace, Tennessee.
A CSX ballast regulator operator’s attempt to repair the machine without powering it off and without using lockout/tagout procedures is the probable cause that led to the machine moving and striking the operator while out of the cab, resulting in the operator’s death.
The NTSB issued four safety recommendations based on the findings of its investigation of the accident with one issued to the Federal Railroad Administration, two to CSX Transportation and one to the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association. All four recommendations address the need for operator presence controls on new and existing self-propelled roadway maintenance machines.
Weather, track condition, cell phone use, medical conditions, fatigue and drug or alcohol impairment were all determined to not be factors in the accident. Investigators also found that had the ballast regulator been equipped with an operator presence control, the machine would not have moved under power after the operator left the cab, and the accident would have been prevented.
“Despite the importance of operator presence controls, there are currently no federal regulations requiring these safety devices for self-propelled track equipment,” said Rob Hall, Director of the Office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Investigations. Railroad worker safety would be improved with the implementation of the safety recommendations issued in this report.”