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Was procedure dropped ahead of California OSHA violation?

Two BART workers who were recently killed when a fast moving train hit them were using a maintenance procedure called "simple approval" at the time of their deaths. BART received a California OSHA violation in 2008 for use of this procedure after another worker's death. The company is still appealing that violation.

Even so, just days after the deaths of the two workers who were using the procedure, BART elected to permanently discontinue using it. The procedure made it necessary for workers to be on the lookout for trains with no radio warnings. This did not require trains to slow down or even stop for workers on the tracks.

In the absence of this system, trains will have to slow to 25 mph or even stop when there are workers on the tracks. A spokesperson for BART expressed concern that this could cause a disruption in service and possibly require additional staff because the simple approval procedure was utilized numerous times each month by workers. This may be a small price to pay to ensure the safety of the company's workers.

It is the responsibility of every California business, including BART, to safeguard the lives of its workers. The absence of safety equipment, procedures and policies and training can easily lead to an OSHA violation at best and the death of a worker at worst. When the worst happens, as it did in this tragic accident, the family of a worker may be entitled to survivor/death benefits under our state's workers' compensation insurance program. These benefits can help a family cope with the financial toll that the premature death of a loved one can take on the family.

Source: sfappeal.com, BART Drops Practice Expecting Workers To Be Responsible For Own Safety, Warns That It May Disrupt Service, No author, Oct. 24, 2013

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