Two transit workers killed on railway

Two transit workers killed on railway

As many Californians know, most of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system's employees are currently on strike. The strike began late last week after a series of contract negotiations fell through; BART workers are seeking higher salaries and benefits for their work.

When the strike began, BART employees warned that their absence could cause a safety risk, as their replacements may not be as familiar with the system.

These fears were apparently realized last weekend, when two BART workers were struck and killed by a train. The two workers were investigating a possible dip in the tracks when they were struck by a train. The train was apparently undergoing a routine maintenance check at the time, and carried no passengers.

It did, however, carry a driver. Though the train was running on "automatic mode" -- essentially an autopilot -- each train must carry a driver who is ready to intervene in case of emergency. BART officials haven't identified the driver in this case, and have only stated that he or she was an "experienced operator."

It's unclear, then, exactly how this tragedy could have occurred. According to one veteran BART employee, "basically everybody had to make a mistake" for such an event to take place. Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board are looking to get to the bottom of the issue; they recently arrived at the scene and began their investigation.

Unfortunately, work-related deaths are not uncommon in America today. Though our safety laws generally do a good job out outlining the rules for a safe workplace, these laws are not always followed. This failure often results in construction accidents, injuries in factories or even injuries on public transportation -- all due to preventable circumstances caused by the negligence of an employer.

Source: The Los Angeles Times, "BART workers gather for vigil for those killed in train accident" Maura Dolan, Oct. 20, 2013

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