The new NTSB Safety Alert published on July 31st, 2017 (SA-066) outlines an issue with Train Approach Warning (TAW) protection provided by watchman/lookouts “not restrict[ing] either trains or equipment from entering a work location.”
As stated in the alert, there are many issues that can cause a watchman/lookout to provide insufficient TAW protection. SA-066 highlights recommendations from the Fatality Analysis of Maintenance-of-Way Employees and Signalman (FAMES) Committee drafted in 2014, including:
- Watchmen/lookouts must focus their sole attention to the detection of approaching trains and equipment.
- Watchmen/lookouts should take into consideration that passenger trains are generally quieter and faster than freight trains.
- Never anticipate the direction or track from which the next train may approach.
All the issues and solutions outlined in the alert can all point to one particular root cause – human error. Whether that is from fatigue, distraction, incomplete job briefings, failure to warn with a clear and distinct manner or in enough time to allow the crew to clear the track, or even the side effects of performing a repetitive routine.
Additional protection is out there. ZoneGuard is an electronic roadway worker protection system that you can add to your crew’s existing TAW safety rules. By setting up portable or fixed modules along an active work zone, you can receive alerts on a wearable device once a track vehicle is detected approaching an on-track worker or work crew. Strengthening your safety rules and regulations with an electronic RWP system will only improve your crew’s ability to protect one another and deter human error.
firstname.lastname@example.org or Kevin Smith, 904-608-9676
See you in booth #3579 at Railway Interchange, September 17 in Indianapolis!