BART Fined $210K for Safety Violations that Led to Worker Deaths Last Year

April 17, 2014 14:30 pm · 32 comments


BART has been fined $210,000 by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health for three safety violations that resulted in the deaths of two track workers during a strike last year, Cal/OSHA officials announced today.

Engineer Christopher Sheppard, 58, of Hayward, and contractor Laurence Daniels, 66, of Fair Oaks, were struck and killed by a BART train while inspecting a dip in the tracks between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill BART stations last Oct. 19.

No trains were carrying passengers that day due to a four-day BART strike, but some trains were running for maintenance and training purposes.

BART at the time was using a controversial safety procedure known as “simple approval,” in which track employees were responsible for their own safety and had to be able to clear the tracks within 15 seconds if a train was approaching.

The policy was quickly suspended and then eliminated in the wake of Sheppard and Daniels’ deaths.

One of the violations announced today is specifically related to the simple approval policy. Cal/OSHA cited BART for not instituting proper workplace safety controls that included workers being notified of oncoming trains with trains approaching at speeds in excess of 65 mph.

Also, neither worker that day was operating as a “watchperson” as the train approached, in violation of the simple approval policy.

After BART dropped the policy, the agency now has to slow down, stop or divert trains while maintenance workers are on the tracks instead of allowing them to walk along tracks while trains are still running.

BART had been fined twice before for violations relating to the simple approval policy following worker deaths in 2001 and 2008.

Cal/OSHA also found that BART had not adequately trained its employees in safety procedures. Workers recently given new job assignments had been allowed to perform their duties without completing their training, including the train operator during October’s accident.

The agency also found that the workers had been working on the 1,000-volt “third rail” while it was energized despite not being qualified electrical workers or being under the supervision of someone qualified.

BART has 15 days to appeal the citations and proposed penalties to the Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board, Cal/OSHA spokesman Peter Melton said today.

BART general manager Grace Crunican issued a statement today saying that the transit agency has upgraded its safety procedures and solved the issues that led to the worker deaths. She did not say whether the agency planned to appeal.

“BART has fundamentally upgraded its safety procedures with the implementation of an enhanced wayside safety program and a proposed budget investment of over $5 million in additional resources to bolster BART’s safety performance,” Crunican said. “Cal/OSHA has informed BART these changes correct the concerns which are at the heart of their citations.”

BART is also awaiting a final report from the National Transportation Safety Board on its investigation into the worker deaths and is in the process of implementing new comprehensive safety regulations adopted by the California Public Utilities Commission, Crunican said.

ChampagneKitty April 17, 2014 at 2:37 PM

BART had better not appeal. They need to just suck it up, pay the fine and make the safety changes.

Elwood April 17, 2014 at 2:37 PM

BART’s management and board, under control of the public employee unions and their bought and paid for politicians could screw up a one car funeral.

Or a one car train.

Wow! April 17, 2014 at 2:40 PM

No way in hell the Bart executives deserve their
pre raise salary, let alone a raise.
Bart needs a complete operational shake up.
Negligence, incompetence , on labor and
managements part. They should hide their faces
in shame.
This will be a field day for the attorneys .

Dorothy April 17, 2014 at 2:40 PM

Not much for two lives.

Sunnymoon April 17, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Just in time for some management raises!

anin April 17, 2014 at 3:00 PM

This fine leads into the forth coming civil suits. The citizens will pay for this–it is all a joke…also- the dead guys did not follow procedure & look for the trains– they paid for their incompetance with their lives.

Safety First April 17, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Would really like to hear from BART employees on this.
Did management have their Safety program on autopilot? One of those programs that looks stellar on paper but if you asked a front line employee when their last Safety contact was and what it was about, you get a blank stare.

Does BART even have Cardinal Safety rules? Those are a documented and well publicized set of basic Safety rules, you violate them you are automatically Fired, NO appeal.

Is the DA also looking into what happened?

J April 17, 2014 at 3:13 PM

Dorothy: My thoughts exactly. Didn’t know a human life was only worth $105,000. Go BART…

Ahhhh April 17, 2014 at 3:29 PM

So let me get this straight. The Government is taking money out of one pocket and putting it in another pocket?!

We will all end up paying for this fine April 17, 2014 at 3:29 PM

through fare increases. Like PG&E, all their money comes from the public. So we all end up paying.

What’s needed is more accountability, like who will get fired or even go to jail? I can already answer that, no one. Those who should be held most accountable get a raise and promotion.

That’s just wrong.

Cal April 17, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Someone high up should be held responsible punished and fired.

Mark April 17, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Too bad the workers were not following procedure. Sad, and they would still be alive. Safety is personal.

Don April 17, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Plus they will have to pay the family restitution, insurance, wrongful death claims, attorney fees etc………250K OSHA fine is a drop in the Bart Bucket.

Nate April 17, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Bart is very slow on safety . The Governor should put the heat on them.

Mustang Sally April 17, 2014 at 4:08 PM

Slap on the wrist.

@ Dorothy and J April 17, 2014 at 4:10 PM

Actuaries have every piece of a human body equated to a $ amount. I think a finger is only worth $5k, but a thumb is worth more. Crazy huh?

mojoduck April 17, 2014 at 4:24 PM

don’t fine bart I can’t afford to pay the fine for them , we pay the fine not bart

Gus April 17, 2014 at 4:27 PM

You should be glad it is only 210k, you’re the one who is going to pay it.

waverunner April 17, 2014 at 4:37 PM

It is unbelievable how incompetent this agency is, and yet no higher authorities step in to monitor them, and they keep getting more and more raises. Who governs this agency?

wesley mouch April 17, 2014 at 4:56 PM

One agency fining the other? Well, it should be for 10 TRILLION DOLLARS!!! Instead, they paid the fine in 1973 dollars, just like the BART ticket machines, computers, and management development. Try some other train lines around the world to see what Wesley Mouch is talking about…

Anonymous April 17, 2014 at 5:09 PM

Start with the Directors- un elect them. Head person should, of course, be fired.

The whole management system is weak , but of course Senator DeSaulnier encouraged that by talking about binding arbitration.

anin April 17, 2014 at 5:13 PM

“Does BART even have Cardinal Safety rules? Those are a documented and well publicized set of basic Safety rules, you violate them you are automatically Fired, NO appeal”

With the current unions–this will NEVER happen

“Too bad the workers were not following procedure. Sad, and they would still be alive. Safety is personal.”

Apparently they were not that smart. Procedures were there for a reason- but not for them.

Future Presidential Candidate April 17, 2014 at 5:23 PM

Where’s the integrity of BART to hold someone responsible? “What difference, at this point, does it make? It is “BART’s” job to figure out what happened and do everything they can to prevent it from ever happening again!”

Now look the other way and ignore this, please. Move along.

anon April 17, 2014 at 5:33 PM

When I was a kid I would play around the railroad tracks. When I heard a train coming from a 1/2 mile away, I would run across the street. I guess Bart trains don’t make any noise.

Keep the... April 17, 2014 at 5:37 PM

thought “we all pay for it” in your head. Because
once every one accepts that fact, the next step
is to make damn sure they DELIVER on what
we pay them to do. Politicians, city,county, state,
And federal employees. Force Govt. and private
Foods not safe?, hire the inspectors we need
Company polluting, hire the people we need.
If we ended these wars and used that money
to bennifit our citizens, it would create jobs!
Private( Mega Rich Corp.) want us to distrust
I am not professing violence. I am saying we
need to stand together and give up this bickering
about left and right and pull the U.S.A. Out of
this Crap hole we have fallen into.

ChampagneKitty April 17, 2014 at 6:12 PM

to Dorothy and J: Of course the amount of the fine isn’t much for the worth of the deceased. Where did you read that that was what the fines were supposed to be based on?

incoming April 17, 2014 at 6:31 PM

Two deaths in the midst of a
bitter strike warranted a criminal
investigation, in my opinion.

Walnut Creek Resident April 17, 2014 at 7:18 PM

The people responsible for the mistake should have their wages garnished!! Not the taxpayers, not just BART!! What does that mean? Who is responsible just
BART….no way… the employees who made the decisions within BART that led to the accident at BART…brother…

anon April 17, 2014 at 10:24 PM

Besides a criminal investigation on the two deaths, there should be a criminal investigation in the overall way BART is operating. What is it going to take before someone seriously steps in and does something about passenger and employee safety on BART????? Yes, it will take another person being killed or serious disaster because BART only beliveves in post-damage control instead of preventative maintenance. NOBODY IN BART MANAGEMENT DESERVES ANY KIND OF A RISE, only a friggin pink slip and an escort to the door. Maybe if these managers actually were BART passengers, BART might operate a little better. I don’t think BART has one train car that is in 100% perfect shape. Where is all the money going? East County money shouldn’t be going to pay for other station construction; our money should be going to keep the trains and tracks in good running condition. The trains barely run, our T.O.’s threaten to take them out of service all the way home and the tracks are constantly plagued with “problems.” Just yesterday, two workers were yelling at the T.O. at MacArthur to give them a heads up or a honk when the train was passing by so I’m wondering if any of the above is actually applied at BART! I just read a thing from March that said they were going to clean up the trains and the stations. NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. Grace, go stand on the Powell or Montgomery Street Platforms; go up the escalator at Embarcadero and smell the essence of urine everywhere. MY TAXPAYER DOLLARS AND FARES HAVE BEEN STOLEN AND MISAPPRIATED BY BART MANAGEMENT.

livin in Concord April 18, 2014 at 8:08 AM

So, where does the “fine” money go? BART pays it, (which really means us the taxpayers and riders), and then it goes… where exactly? Just like the PGE “fine”. Where does this money go?

Bill P April 18, 2014 at 9:38 AM

Where does the money come from, the unions????????????

Paul April 18, 2014 at 12:59 PM

The article says,

“BART at the time was using a controversial safety procedure known as “simple approval,” in which track employees were responsible for their own safety and had to be able to clear the tracks within 15 seconds if a train was approaching.”

When are any BART workers NOT responsible for their own safety???
Oh, I forgot, I’m never responsible for myself. Time to go look down the barrel of a gun.

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