NTSB Releases Preliminary Report on Berkshire Line Project Accident

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
image description

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. – The NTSB has released a report on the accident that killed an employee last month in Massachusetts.

Several weeks ago, RT&S reported that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation halted work on the Berkshire Line project after a worker was killed by a piece of machinery. At the time of reporting, the FRA, NTSB, and Massachusetts state police were conducting an investigation into the accident. The NTSB report has been released with the FRA report coming “within six months.” The NTSB reported that it has conducted interviews, observations, and examinations of the maintenance machine involved.

NTSB’s Newsroom on Twitter announced that it has released a “preliminary report for its ongoing of the Aug. 4, 2023 accident involving a Middlesex Corporation employee.” The report shows that just after 10AM on August 4th of this year, an employee (who had been assigned to perform MoW work) “was fatally injured when struck by a roadway maintenance machine {a driller). . . The driller’s operator was moving the machine north on the track in reverse. The accident employee was operating a leaf blower on the same track when he was struck near milepost (MP) 58.7.” The report goes on to say that visibility conditions did not play a factor as the weather was clear that morning. 

The track where the accident occurred is owned by the MassDOT and operated by HRRC. The Middlesex Corporation was hired by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to support work on the Berkshire Line. The HRRC provided on-track working limits and a roadway worker-in-charge (RWIC). The report goes on to say that preliminary information shows that at “about 4:30AM, the RWIC held a job briefing near MP 57.3 and informed the work group about the working limits for the day, which were between MP 50 and MP 59.” After which, the employees broke out into two groups, with the group involved in the accident heading north. 

During work, there were four works installing lag screws, and the driller “experienced a mechanical failure, and two workers moved the driller to a rail yard for repair; one of them was the operator.” The other workers continued their work. The accident happened “when the operator was moving the driller from the rail yard to the work location to resume work.”

The NTSB’s investigation is still ongoing and will now shift its focus to “the roadway worker protection procedures regulated” by the FRA and practiced by HRRC and the “roadway worker oversight practices followed by MassDOT, the HRRC, and the Middlesex Corporation.” 

Because of the accident, the FTA’s Fatality Analysis of Maintenance-of-way Employees and Signalmen Committee “issued an alert on August 7, 2023, advising all roadway workers to participate in on track safety briefings, ensure on track protection is adequate, and maintain a safe distance from roadway maintenance machines.”

Tags: , ,