Lack of Safety Measures Led to CN Worker’s Death

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The death of a CN engineering services employee in July, 2011 was at least partially due to inadequate safety watch protection measures, according to a leading safety board.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has released the findings of an investigation into the July 14, 2011 death of the worker, who was making repairs to a section of the Kingston Subdivision track near Durham Junction in Ontario when he was struck and killed by a VIA Rail train.

Safety watch protection calls for a number of measures to be undertaken to ensure that workers are safe when undertaking a job. Among its key mandates, safety watch protection calls for every crew member to understand what the job is and how it is to be completed and how the area will be cleared of both workers and equipment should a train approach.

Most importantly, it calls for a worker to always be in position to watch for oncoming rail traffic. That worker is then responsible for alerting other workers through physical means.

In the incident, the TSB found that the CN work crew did not have enough employees on the job to allow one to act as a dedicated safety watch. Furthermore, the crew was working in an area that did not provide the minimum safe sight line required to have an effective safety watch.

safety first it begins with me

As a result, the crew was not aware of the oncoming train until it was too late.

Following the death, CN ramped up its Safety Watch training and has retrained some 3,000 employees on the upgraded training protocols.

The company’s beefed up safety measures also include improvements to the sight line distance/time chart that outlines how much time is required for workers to clear the track, as well as the creation of a list of activities that can be performed under safety watch protection.

CN has also developed a safety watch job aid and training course for all of its engineering services employees.

By Richard Barnes
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