A breakdown in communications, improper scheduling or failure to signal may have set the stage for a deadly on-the-job accident at a railroad crossing undergoing maintenance in Auburn, Indiana (IN). On September 5, 2015, a contractor crossed one set of tracks holding a stopped train and was hit and killed by a second train moving along the parallel tracks. Witnesses said the worker who lost his life did not know about and never saw the train that struck him near the intersection of Auburn Drive and Grandstaff Drive.
One report identified the train involved in the crash as being operated by CSX. While that detail is difficult to confirm, the fatal worksite accident itself highlights dangers faced by all people working along railroad tracks. Rail employees must know at all times where locomotives and rail cars will be moving and at what time rolling stock will be in motion. Any such information not shared with workers can easily result in disabling injuries and deaths.
Trains, even at low speeds, cannot stop quickly, When the do hit people, trains' sheer size and weight practically guarantee tragic outcomes for the person. Laws, regulations and job rules are in place to ensure that workers learn of risks from moving trains. Dispatchers should keep crews continuously updated on movements. Engineers and conductors in locomotives should have ways to communicate with co-workers on the ground. Systems of lights, flags and human spotters should ensure that everyone knows if he or she is walking into danger.
One or more of those safeguards failed at the railroad crossing in Indiana. The problem must be identified and resolved as quickly as possible to prevent similar losses of life.