NTSB Investigating UP Track Maintenance Manager Fatality in Arkansas 

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
image description
Courtesy of UP

MCNEIL, Ark. – The NTSB is investigating a Union Pacific Railroad employee fatality that occurred in April in McNeil, Arkansas.

On April 18th. RT&S reported a FAMES alert was issued after the fatality of a Union Pacific track worker. The FAMES alert reminds workers that “on-track safety briefings should emphasize the risks associated with RMM movements and address items such as noise, machine spacing, obstructed visibility, and proper communications whenever roadway workers are working near RMM(s).” Workers should also “establish clear communication and maintain proper clearance between RMM operators and workers on the ground,” which includes the swing radius of machines. The last take-away given from FAMES was clear communication “for initiating movement, slowing, stopping, and changing direction.”

Now, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the incident that occurred on April 11, 2024. Around 6:22 p.m. local time, a Union Pacific track maintenance manager was struck during maintenance operations at milepost 366.25 near McNeil, Arkansas. In the Pine Bluff Subdivision, the excavator was operated by a B&P Enterprises employee, and “the manager was on the south side of the excavator when he was struck by the excavator’s bucket and pinned between the excavator’s body and the bucket.” Workers on site called emergency services and began life-saving measures, but the manager was pronounced deceased at the scene. The NTSB says the single main track “passed over a culvert embedded in a 25-foot-high earthen fill with steep banks at the accident site.” That day, the work group had replaced the culvert, and the excavator was scooping ballast material from the south side and dumping ballast over the fill of the culvert. During this time, the operator “was moving the excavator’s arm outward to scoop and dump material,” and the “manager had walked near the tread on the south side of the excavator.” The excavator’s bucket struck the manager.

NTSB investigators conducted an examination of the excavator and blind spots from said excavator. They reviewed the excavator’s memory module data and radio conversation recordings between UP’s dispatching center and its MoW workers. In addition, the NTSB says it examined the contents of the manger’s vehicle and UP dump truck, reviewed first responder logs, and completed interviews.

This investigation from the NTSB is ongoing and will focus on safety technologies, UP’s rules and training for workers around roadway maintenance machines, B&P Enterprises’ rules and training, and UP’s dispatching center communications with the manager. 

Tags: , , , , , ,