Bay Area Rapid Transit Faces $210,000 in Cal/OSHA Fines for Fatal Accident Photo by Franco Folini/Wikimedia Commons

Bay Area Rapid Transit Faces $210,000 in Cal/OSHA Fines for Fatal Accident

After investigating the October 2013 deaths of two workers, Cal/OSHA has cited the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) for three willful/serious violations carrying $210,000 in fines.

After investigating the October 2013 deaths of two workers, Cal/OSHA has cited the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) for three willful/serious violations carrying $210,000 in fines.

Christopher Sheppard and Laurence Daniels died on Oct. 19, 2013, when an out-of-service BART train struck them near the Walnut Creek, Calif., transit station.

BART said the two workers, who were performing track inspections at the time of the accident, “had extensive experience working around moving trains.” However, Cal/OSHA cited the transit agency because Sheppard and Daniels “did not meet the qualifications to perform work near hazardous energized third-rails.” Sheppard was a special-projects manager, while Daniels was a contractor and consulting engineer.

According to Cal/OSHA, an inexperienced operator-in-training was at the helm of the train that killed Sheppard and Daniels. The agency cited BART for allowing an employee on a new assignment to perform the job without having completed his training.

“BART Train 963, a four-car train operating in automatic mode traveling at more than 65 miles per hour with an inexperienced operator-in-training at the controls, was proceeding to its destination of Pleasant Hill station around 1:45 p.m.,” Cal/OSHA explained. “The high-ranking manager designated as the trainer was seated in the passenger area with three BART managers and another trainee instead of maintaining a position next to the trainee in the control cab.

"Although he could see the trainee at the controls from behind the open control-cab door, the trainer was not located in a position to closely view the trainee’s actions and observe the track. The trainee saw the workers and was attempting to sound the horn and stop the train when the workers were struck.”

The agency issued a third citation for BART’s alleged failure to develop and implement safety measures to protect personnel during railcar movement. At the time of the accident, BART was using a “simple-approval” authorization process that made track workers responsible for their own safety. According to Cal/OSHA, there were fatal workplace accidents in 2001 and 2008 while BART was using the authorization process.

The day after the 2013 fatalities, BART suspended the simple-approval process for track maintenance. 

In response to the Cal/OSHA citations, BART General Manager Grace Crunican said the transit agency over the past six months has been “making permanent changes to our safety procedures.” 

“BART has fundamentally upgraded its safety procedures with the implementation of an enhanced wayside safety program and a proposed budget investment of over $5 million in additional resources to bolster BART’s safety performance,” Crunican said. “Cal/OSHA has informed BART these changes correct the concerns [that] are at the heart of their citations, designating the issues as ‘abated,’ meaning that none are continuing violations or pose continuing safety hazards.”

Crunican also noted that BART “has embraced comprehensive rail-safety regulations adopted by the California Public Utilities Commission impacting all rail-transit agencies in California.” 

“These requirements will add extra procedures and protections for trackside crews during both operating and non-operating hours,” Crunican said. “Changes, which go into effect in May, include better communication between the operation control center, train operators and work crews on the track; safety measures and reduced train speeds when workers are close by; and a mandatory watch person including during non-operating hours when maintenance vehicles are on the tracks working.”

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