Inadequate safety watch training contributed to a serious December 2016 injury at Roberts Bank Yard in Delta, the transportation safety board of Canada (TSB) announced today (May 14).
On Dec. 18, an Toronto Terminals Railway engineer and conductor were moving a number of empty containers to a track in Roberts Bank Yard. The conductor was driving a vehicle beside the front of the train, while providing instructions to the engineer, who was at the back of the train.
At the same time, to track maintenance workers from PNR RailWorks were clearing snow from a switch on the same track as the train.
As the train approached, the conductor saw the workers, and started the beacon on top of the vehicle. When the maintenance workers didn’t react, the conductor attempted to sound the horn, which was broken. Then the conductor told the engineer to stop the train.
However, there wasn’t enough time for the train to stop, and one of the workers was seriously injured.
The TSB investigation found that the conductor’s instruction to stop was not made in time for the train to stop. The focus needed to drive a vehicle and monitor the train’s progress, coupled with the expectation that the workers would clear the track, likely contributed to the late call.
The investigation also found problems in the safety watch protection used by the track workers.
Safety watch is a type of protection for a crew where one worker’s job is to monitor the work site for incoming trains or other equipment. In this case, neither workers was solely performing safety watch, and had not been adequately trained in the procedure.
The investigation found they did not have an accurate understanding of safety watch, and because of inadequate audits, this lack of understanding was not apparent.
As a result of the investigation, BCR Properties Ltd. (owner of Roberts Bank Yard) completed a risk assessment and incorporated a number of protection measures into its safety management systems.
BCR also followed up with PNR RailWorks to ensure those employees receive appropriate training and certifications.