DOL Teams with Railway Union to Boost Safety in Ohio Following Train Derailment

DOL Teams with Railway Union to Boost Safety in Ohio Following Train Derailment

The settlement promises to improve work conditions for Norfolk Southern Corp. employees.

The derailment of a Norfolk Southern Corp. train in East Palestine, Ohio, is leading the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to take action.

In a release dated August 9, the DOL announced a partnership between OSHA, Norfolk Southern Corp. and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division-International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The settlement agreement follows both the train derailment and subsequent OSHA investigations into the incident.

The train derailment occurred on February 2, 2023, and resulted in a 49-railcar pile-up. Among those railcars were 11 tank cars carrying hazardous chemicals, which ignited and caused the pile-up to burn for several days. OSHA launched its inspection on March 2 to ensure safety clearance for workers tasked with rebuilding the tracks and conducting site clean-up.

Per the settlement terms, Norfolk Southern Corp. will launch a medical surveillance program for affected employees, provide emergency and hazardous waste training to union employees and create training specifically based on this incident. In addition, the company must pay $49,111 in OSHA penalties. The agency identified four violations, including failure to provide chemical-resistant footwear, respiratory protection, chemical training and an emergency response plan.

“This agreement will improve the safety and health controls in place for Norfolk Southern employees who responded and help educate the rail operator’s employees on the lessons learned so they are prepared should another emergency occur,” OSHA Area Office Director Howard Eberts in Cleveland said in a statement. “We are pleased by the collaborative safety and health efforts of Norfolk Southern Corp, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division and contractors from the clean-up site who have been working together on this site remediation.”

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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