Two workers doing maintenance were struck and killed in Walnut Creek, Calif. by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train. Following the fatal accident, BART officials sent out an interoffice memo prohibiting “Simple Approvals” until further notice. This means that they would no longer tell workers that they themselves are responsible for their own safety while working on train tracks, reported the San Jose Mercury News (10.23.13).
The Simple Approvals policy places safety “squarely on the shoulders of ground crews” and has been a controversial policy for some time. In this case, one worker should have been responsible for watching for oncoming trains and warning the other.
Christopher Sheppard, 58, and Laurence Daniels, 66, were inspecting a “dip” in the track at the time of their deaths.
As investigators re-enacted the double-fatal train accident, the national president for Amalgamated Transit Union international, one of the transit agency’s largest unions, blamed the two deaths on BART management, said the San Jose Mercury News. Lawrence Hanley was upset that an employee was being trained to operate a train during a work stoppage. It is thought that the workers were not as vigilant because they may have believed no trains were moving.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.
Employee rights to safe workplaces
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees. New York also has its own workplace safety laws. Every employee in New York has the right to a safe workplace.
Employees should be sure that their employers recognize their rights. The best way to do this is for a worker to know his or her rights. According to OHSA, all employees have the right to a workplace that is free from recognized hazards, such as toxic chemicals, excessive noise, fall hazards, electrical or mechanical dangers, fire and explosion dangers, and unclean conditions. An employer with a workplace that fails to meet these conditions may be responsible for workers who are injured or killed on the unsafe jobsite. It is the responsibility of the employer to assess workplace hazards and address them appropriately.
Employer responsibility and New York personal injury lawyers
Workers who have been injured in a New York workplace accident may have a case against their employer. An experienced personal injury lawyer from The Perecman Firm in New York can advise a worker of his or her rights and help get the maximum compensation that is deserved.