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BART Fined $210,000 by Cal/OSHA for Accident That Killed 2 Workers

| April 17, 2014
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A BART train sits idle at the Millbrae station during a BART strike on July 3, 2013.

A BART train sits idle at the Millbrae station during a BART strike on July 3, 2013. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Update Thursday 1:08 p.m:

In response to the news of BART’s citation and penalty by Cal-OSHA, Patricia Schuchardt, president of  AFSCME Local 3993, said:

“BART management and board members are finally being held accountable for the poor choices they make with regards to policies and procedures related to worker and rider safety. It was their arrogant belief during the strike last October that they could run the system without the people who possess the skills and experience to run BART safely, and two men are dead because of that.”

Chris Sheppard, one of the two men killed in the October 2013 accident, was a member of Local 3993, which represents train controllers, among other supervisorial and professional staff.

“Hopefully, this will end BART’s culture of disregarding the concerns of the people who run the system on a daily basis and engaging in lengthy appeals processes rather than abating known workplace hazards,” Schuchardt said.

On Thursday, KQED’s Mina Kim talked with Michael LeRoy, a professor at the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois College of Law at Urbana-Champaign. He followed last year’s BART strike, and this incident.

“When you read the actual citations, even a layperson would probably say ‘What were you thinking when you did this?’” LeRoy said.

“They don’t have any lookout posted, they’ve got two individuals working on a track that is active, you have a train coming through in excess of 65mph, and worse the two individuals inspecting a dip in the track have a metal pole that is determined to be too near an energized third-rail line.”

Original post:

Cal/OSHA is fining BART $210,000 for three “willful serious violations” that led to the Oct. 19 deaths of two workers, who were killed by a train in Walnut Creek that was going more than 65 mph.

The probe by Cal/OSHA found the workers, Christopher Sheppard and Laurence Daniels, didn’t meet the qualifications needed to do work near hazardous energized third rails. Sheppard was a special projects manager for the transit system, while Daniels was a contractor and consulting engineer.

The investigation also found that a trainee was at the controls when the accident happened. His trainer, described as a “high-ranking transportation manager,” was seated in the passenger car with other BART managers and another trainee, and he wasn’t able to view the track from that vantage point.

The third violation was the result of the fact that BART’s “simple approval” procedures for employees working on the tracks were not adequate and weren’t being followed in any case.

“Employers in California msut comply with safety standards to protect their employees, and diligence is vital in hazardous working conditions,” said Christine Baker, director of the state Department of Industrial Relations, which includes Cal/OSHA.

The accident occurred while BART workers were on strike.

BART General Manager Grace Crunican issued the following statement:

“The BART family has spent the past six months mourning the loss of Christopher D. Sheppard and Laurence E. Daniels while making permanent changes to our safety procedures.  Passenger and employee safety is our top priority at BART.  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.  Cal/OSHA has informed BART these changes correct the concerns which are at the heart of their citations, designating the issues as ‘abated,’ meaning that none are continuing violations or pose continuing safety hazards.

Here’s the citation:

And here’s some previous coverage from KQED:

NTSB Urges Safety Upgrades in Wake of BART Worker Deaths
http://blogs.kqed.org/newsfix/2013/12/19/ntsb-urges-safety-upgrades-in-wake-of-BART-worker-deaths

BART Probe: Investigators Re-Enact Fatal Accident
http://blogs.kqed.org/newsfix/2013/10/20/ntsb-investigating-bart-train-accident-that-killed-two-workers

 

 

 

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About the Author ()

Pat Yollin has written about all kinds of stuff, including wayward penguins at the San Francisco Zoo, organ transplants, the comeback of the cream puff, New York on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, a Slow Food gathering in Italy and the microcredit movement in Northern California. Her favorite stories from last year were an interview with George Lucas at Skywalker Ranch, a profile of Italy's consul general in SF, and a pirate Trader Joe's operation in Vancouver that prompted the grocery chain to sue -- and lose. Reach Patricia Yollin at pyollin@kqed.org.

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