N.Y. Contractor Cited after Runaway Rail Car Injures Two Workers

OSHA found that the wheels of the rail car had not been chocked, and a safety chain had not been attached to prevent the car from rolling away while it was being disconnected from the rest of the train.

OSHA has cited Dragados USA-Judlau JV, general contractor for the East Side Tunnel Access Project between Queens and Manhattan, with 11 alleged serious violations of workplace safety standards. OSHA's Manhattan Area Office opened an inspection following an Oct. 15 incident in which a runaway rail car struck an aerial lift in the tunnel, injuring two workers in the lift. Proposed fines total $48,000.

OSHA found that the wheels of the rail car had not been chocked, and a safety chain had not been attached to prevent the car from rolling away while it was being disconnected from the rest of the train. As a result of those conditions, employees working farther down the track were exposed to being struck by the runaway car. The workers in the aerial lift lacked a radio or watch person to warn them of the runaway rail car approaching them, and the rail car lacked lights that would have alerted workers in the tunnel of its approach. In addition, the employer did not conduct inspections to ensure that proper safety procedures were followed to prevent a runaway rail car.

"Underground construction is essential but dangerous work. It's also essential that effective worker safeguards are in place and in use at all times. That was not the case here," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director in Manhattan. "This incident would have been avoided if the employer had followed proper safety procedures, inspected for and corrected deficiencies, and provided adequate training to employees."

The inspection identified additional hazards involving unsecured compressed gas cylinders, damaged guardrails on the aerial lift, unprotected steel reinforcement rods sticking out of the tunnel's floors and walls, ungrounded electrical cords, a damaged ladder cage, and the employer's failure to train employees in the recognition and avoidance of tunneling hazards.

"One way for employers to minimize hazards is to establish and maintain an effective illness and injury prevention program in which they work with their employees to identify and eliminate hazards," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

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