MARTA and Ga. DOT lock horns over alleged safety violations

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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MARTA and GDOT haggle over safety issues at MARTA.

MARTA, GDOT, and OSHA are all involved in a brawl over MARTA's safety culture.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Transit Authority) are at loggerheads over the results of a recent safety investigation and report by the GDOT on alleged safety violations at MARTA.

One issue that sparked the investigation was the death of a MARTA contractor in 2018 when, while sitting in his vehicle, was struck by a northbound train. The GDOT said that MARTA had not implemented effective safety monitoring and protocols after this accident, and had allowed safety offers to work long shifts without required breaks. And, the GDOT report said that the accident that caused the contractor’s death resulted from human error.

The investigation and report also concluded that there is a toxic culture at MARTA that creates a hostile environment for those who report safety violations. In fact, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is looking at a report by a MARTA worker who filed a whistleblower report regarding some of the items that are also in the GDOT report. Moreover, a MARTA safety officer who says they were fired for speaking up against safety violations has initiated a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court.

MARTA has cried foul over the GDOT report. The agency said that the GDOT didn’t have jurisdiction over labor-management issues, and OSHA does, which is why MARTA is working with OSHA. Those who reviewed the GDOT report said that they could not verify the allegations. In addition, MARTA says that GDOT investigators did not interview MARTA safety managers, nor did they pay attention to information MARTA provided about the situation that offered a different perspective.

In a separate and unrelated matter, RT&S recently reported on an employee who was fired by CSX for reporting a safety violation, only to be reinstated with back pay and punitive damages by OSHA.

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