August 30, 2023

NTSB probe of CSX fatality to focus on employee training, close clearances


The National Transportation Safety Board will be focusing its investigation of an Aug. 6 fatality at a CSX rail yard in Cumberland, Maryland, on the railroad’s employee training regime, as well as the industry’s procedures for identifying areas where the clearance between rail equipment might be limited.

In a NTSB report issued Tuesday, it confirmed initial reported details about the incident, including that the conductor trainee, identified by CSX as Travis Bradley, sustained injuries while performing a shoving movement. At about 11:42 p.m. Aug. 6, Bradley was riding the side of an intermodal rail car as the train was moving at approximately 9 miles per hour when he was struck by the handrail of a standing locomotive on an adjacent track. Bradley was taken to a nearby hospital, where he later died. 

Other crew members besides the conductor trainee were an engineer, who was in the locomotive cab when the incident occurred, and a conductor, while the train was composed of two locomotives and three loaded intermodal rail cars. 

NTSB noted that following the incident, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a safety bulletin on Aug. 16 urging railroads to review employee training programs that address riding equipment in close-clearance situations and to consider marking close or no clearance areas with highly visible signs. An industry working group affiliated with FRA that’s responsible for switching operations fatalities analyses also issued an alert on Aug. 11 advising railroad employees to remain vigilant when mentoring inexperienced employees and to conduct job briefings whenever a job changes.

Separately, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Transportation Division (SMART-TD) put out its own advisory to its members, urging them to put their safety first and ensure that their co-workers are out of harm’s way.

As NTSB continues its investigation, other parties involved include FRA, the Maryland Department of Labor, CSX (NASDAQ: CSX), SMART-TD and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

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