FTA Proposes New Rail Worker Safety Rules

The Federal Transit Administration recently proposed new mandatory minimum standards to protect laborers who perform track work for all rail transit agencies nationwide.

[Above photo by FTA]

The FTA’s notice of proposed rulemaking or NPRM – issued on March 25 – would require transit agencies across the country to create a protection program geared at personnel who work on or around the tracks, implement comprehensive training for workers, and ensure that unsafe acts and conditions are reported.

The NPRM would establish the following requirements for rail transit agencies: 

  • Adopt and implement a Roadway Worker Protection or RWP program to improve worker safety consistent with Federal and state safety requirements. The agency added that “Roadway” is a term describing the area on and along the tracks.
  • Establish minimum RWP program elements, including job safety briefings, lone worker protection, and good faith safety challenges. 
  • Document RWP programs in a manual that includes a track access guide.
  • Implement an RWP training program that addresses all transit workers responsible for on-track safety by position. 

The NPRM would also apply to rail agencies and state safety oversight agencies – known as SSOAs. It would require SSOAs to review and approve worker protection program elements, monitor implementation, and conduct annual audits to ensure compliance.

The FTA added that, according to the National Transit Database, between January 1, 2008, and October 31, 2022 some 22 workers were killed and 120 workers were seriously injured in rail transit/roadway safety events. 

“This rule will ultimately save lives,” noted FTA Acting Administrator Veronica Vanterpool in a statement.

“Once this rule is finalized, it will support safer conditions for workers who perform critical tasks that keep transit operating efficiently and safely,” she said.

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