FAMES Committee finds spike in fatal accidents following lunch

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
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The Fatality Analysis of Maintenance-of-Way Employees and Signalmen (FAMES) Committee issued three recommendations following a report finding a spike in roadway worker fatalities in the hour following the traditional noon mealtime.

FAMES obtained data on 39 accidents, accounting for 41 fatalities, which occurred since implementation of the Roadway Worker Protection Rule in 1997.

According to a report published on the Federal Railroad Administration’s website, “The FAMES Committee analysis identified that a significant number of fatal incidents occurred in the one-hour period from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. These fatalities occurred across multiple forms of On-Track Safety, different crafts, and on single and multiple track territories. Although the data reviewed by the FAMES Committee was not definitive as to the reasons for this alarming spike, the data indicates an elevated number of fatalities occurred following a typical meal period.”

The report says several Class 1s have found a similar pattern and have developed programs to refocus roadway worker attention to the job demands prior to returning to duty from lunch and other periods of inactivity. The FAMES Committee included three recommendations in its report, including: Roadway workers should focus on the safety risk of transitioning from a sedentary period to an active work environment; railroads should engage roadway workers in discussions concerning the spike of fatalities from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. to raise awareness and gain a better understanding of the underlying causes and roadway workers should participate in a Job Safety Re-Briefing after extended periods of inactivity, such as meal periods, travel time, etc.

The committee states that various methods can be employed to enhance the mental and physical readiness of roadway workers after periods of inactivity and believes one of the most important and effective of these is to conduct an on-track safety re-briefing before resuming activities foul of any track.

Categories: Class 1, Commuter/Regional, ON Track Maintenance, Safety/Training, Shortline/Regional, Yards & Terminals