Discontinuation of Controversial Practice In Wake Of BART Tragedy

Posted on October 25, 2013

Following a recent tragedy, Bay Area Rapid Transit will reportedly cease taking part in a practice wherein workers along tracks are not alerted to approaching trains.  The move has come after years of protests among employees and safety advocates who wondered about how the policy could endanger workers.  The situation is explored further in a new report from the San Francisco Gate.

The procedure is known as “simple approval.”  Basically, it amounts to workers being responsible for their own wellbeing when along the tracks.  For the past 30 years or more, BART has failed to warn workers when a train is incoming.

Instead, workers are asked to rely on a spotter who can tell fellow employees when a train is on its way.  This is despite trains coming through an area at speeds of 70 miles per hour or so, the speed the train that led to this past weekend’s two fatalities was thought to be going.

BART has announced that they will no longer engage in this practice for the time being, something that one union official interviewed for the story says is a good idea.  He notes that changing the policy might allow workers ample warning about imminent trains.

Cal/OSHA has previously called out the practice, which it cited as leading to another fatal accident five years ago.  An appeals board with the agency said this amounted to intentional deprivation of train travel information.

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