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Workplace accident kills two BART workers on the tracks

On Oct. 19, two BART workers received "simple approval" to conduct some work on a track shortly after 1 p.m. By shortly after 1:30 p.m., they were killed in a workplace accident. A train heading eastbound struck the two men, fatally wounding them both.

The biggest question surrounding their deaths revolves around the simple approval procedure. Back in 2008, another worker was killed after having received simple approval, and the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration division cited BART for the procedure. In accordance with state law, the procedure should have been revised, but BART is still appealing Cal/OSHA's decision. When the two workers who were recently killed received simple approval and began their work, an automated message originally went out to all trains that the tracks were clear and there was no work being done. An operations worker corrected this immediately thereafter.

The train that hit the two men was traveling between 60 and 70 miles per hour at the time of impact. An investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported that the engineer of the train did receive the message that there were workers in the area and "just before impact" sounded a warning. Since the simple approval procedure does not give workers warnings when trains are approaching their location, the emergency horn may have been the only warning the pair received.

While Cal/OSHA, BART and the NTSB deal with the details of the investigation, the families of the two deceased workers are having to deal with their loss. Under California law, the families may be entitled to survivor benefits from the state's workers' compensation system. These benefits may help the families with burial and funeral costs along with other expenses they have incurred since this tragic workplace accident took place.

Source: sfgate.com, BART workers on tracks don't get train warnings, Demian Bulwa, Oct. 21, 2013

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