Following the one-day ‘Stand Down’, construction flaggers, track and other MOW personnel have been ordered to resume all work but, to be more mindful of the rules and exercise more caution!
That’s what the TA did on Nov 4, when it issued Bulletin 16-41, which merely reiterated and clarified rule 3.72(c) following the tragic death of C/R Louis Gray Jr and injury to his partner, C/R Jeffery Fleming, the day before.
Their entire focus is on employee behavior. They are completely silent on their own rules and procedures, which are sacred and without blame, but which is where the biggest problems usually lie.
While the TA’s official or public position is that the incident is “still under investigation” and people should not “jump to conclusions” too early, by issuing this bulletin they are strongly suggesting that it was some failure or fault on the part of the employees themselves to blame for Gray’s death and Fleming’s injury!
This is outrageous but typical of the TA. Transit workers should loudly rail at the way the TA devalues their lives, while their own union leadership stand idly by. In their rush to get right back to production and on schedule, they are willing to put all employees assigned to work on the tracks in harm’s way.
Instead of business as usual, the proper safety approach is to move to more restrictive measures and procedures which provide greater protection of life and limb, until the actual principal causes of the accident are determined and permanent measures are adopted and put into effect.
But that requires putting our lives before the TA’s production and schedules. For instance, all work sites – whether in-house or private contractor – should be immediately jointly audited by supervision and union reps for flagging set up and implementation; the setting up of flags and the flagging position itself need to be treated as part of the work site as the law requires; employees must be cleared from the track bed on all tracks BEFORE any unexpected train movement is authorized.
Too often, getting an extra train into the schedule or getting some extra move done is given importance over transit workers lives. Transit workers are simply told,’ be careful’ and ‘always look both ways’ and are then sent into a mine field of traps, relying on their wits, on a hope and a prayer.
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