As both a veteran railroad worker and union official responsible for safety, Mike Elliott became alarmed when he learned of trouble-plagued train signals in his home state of Washington.
Signals, he said, at times would inexplicably switch from red to yellow to green – potentially creating confusion that could lead to a crash. Elliott raised that and other signal issues repeatedly with his managers at BNSF Railway Co.
Residents of the tiny town of Heimdal, North Dakota and people on surrounding farms were evacuated yesterday after a BNSF train carrying crude oil derailed, causing ten cars to become engulfed in flames.
Recent I joined the BNSF Road Way Equipment Safety Leadership Team in Dallas, Texas. They began their meeting, as many companies do, with a safety briefing. For most meetings, I hear someone give a quick safety minute talk about a general hazard. At many meetings, the emergency exits are pointed out and actions to take are shared. BNSF went way beyond that in just about the same amount of time.
The BNSF Railway Co. has signed an accord with OSHA in which the company agrees to voluntary revise several personnel policies that OSHA alleged violated the whistleblower provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act and dissuaded workers from reporting on-the-job injuries.