Runaway rail car injures two in tunnel; citations follow
A tunnel accident that resulted in injuries to two workers has earned a NY contractor citations for 11 serious violations of workplace safety standards. Dragados USA-Judlau JV, general contractor for the East Side Tunnel Access Project between Queens and Manhattan, faces proposed fines of $48,000.
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. 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. Additionally, 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.
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.