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BART Fined $210,000 for Safety Violations That Resulted in 2 Employee Deaths in East Bay

Christopher Sheppard, 58, of Hayward, and Laurence Daniels, 66, were killed when they were hit Oct. 19.

BART has been fined $210,000 by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health for three safety violations that resulted in the deaths of two track workers during a strike last year, Cal/OSHA officials announced today.
 
Engineer Christopher Sheppard, 58, of Hayward, and contractor Laurence Daniels, 66, of Fair Oaks, were struck and killed by a BART train while inspecting a dip in the tracks between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill BART stations last Oct. 19.
 
No trains were carrying passengers that day due to a four-day BART strike, but some trains were running for maintenance and training purposes. BART at the time was using a controversial safety procedure known as "simple approval," in which track employees were responsible for their own safety and had to be able to clear the tracks within 15 seconds if a train was approaching.
 
The policy was quickly suspended and then eliminated in the wake of Sheppard and Daniels' deaths. One of the violations announced today is specifically related to the simple approval policy.

Cal/OSHA cited BART for not instituting proper workplace safety controls that included workers being notified of oncoming trains with trains approaching at speeds in excess of 65 mph.
 
Also, neither worker that day was operating as a "watchperson" as the train approached, in violation of the simple approval policy.
 
After BART dropped the policy, the agency now has to slow down, stop or divert trains while maintenance workers are on the tracks instead of allowing them to walk along tracks while trains are still running.
 
BART had been fined twice before for violations relating to the simple approval policy following worker deaths in 2001 and 2008.
 
Cal/OSHA also found that BART had not adequately trained its employees in safety procedures. Workers recently given new job assignments had been allowed to perform their duties without completing their training, including the train operator during October's accident.
 
The agency also found that the workers had been working on the 1,000-volt "third rail" while it was energized despite not being qualified electrical workers or being under the supervision of someone qualified. BART has 15 days to appeal the citations and proposed penalties to the Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board, Cal/OSHA spokesman Peter Melton said today.
 
BART general manager Grace Crunican issued a statement today saying that the transit agency has upgraded its safety procedures and solved the issues that led to the worker deaths. She did not say whether the agency planned to appeal.
 
"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 which are at the heart of their citations."
 
BART is also awaiting a final report from the National Transportation Safety Board on its investigation into the worker deaths and is in the process of implementing new comprehensive safety regulations adopted by the California Public Utilities Commission, Crunican said.

—By Bay City News
DJParker April 17, 2014 at 08:52 PM
The work area must be made safe by "locking it out". That means that switches leading into the work area must be locked in a position to divert traffic away from the area being worked on. Everyone working in the isolated area must have his/her lock on the lockout. If not, BART should be made to stock Body Bags as a part of their inventory. Nuff Said!
Giorgio C. April 17, 2014 at 09:31 PM
Zakhary Mallett needs to fire General Manager Grace Crunican. If he doesn't, it will appear that he doesn't give a damn about the average working stiff, myself included. Put the union stuff aside. Just focus on what happened. Two workers were killed as a result of unsafe practices as confirmed by OSHA. These unsafe practices were previously raised as a problem. BART's defense was that the user, us, wouldn't tolerate the resultant delays from safer practices. How cowardly is that, that BART places the blame on the rider? The General Manager is responsible for the safety of their employees. The risk assessment data predicted this tragedy. Safety comes first, but not with this BART management. I do not know if Director Mallett has ever worked a job that included some level of risk. He really needs to put himself in the shoes of the average worker (union or not), and then find a new GM.
mr magoo April 18, 2014 at 12:04 AM
$210K is light for deaths on a system that should have very mature operating procedures by now. I'd say heads need to roll before the civil suits start. All of BART needs a swift kick - here''s the chance to R&R management.
mr magoo April 18, 2014 at 12:04 AM
Remove and Replace (not the other R&R)
Ken Briggs April 18, 2014 at 12:10 PM
get rid of Grace and all the others that screwed up while the strike was on , but who is the ones that are paying for the fines ? that right it is the folks that use bart . while the two were out on the tracks , the ones that were out running around in the bart cars should of been smarter than what they were , how is it they got off ? the workers were out doing a job while bart was on strike so someone screwed up , who nwas it besides Grace and that no good mr hock .

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