Safety Advocate Briefing for January 12, 2017


First we have added some new files to the Safety Page.  The contract transportation complaint form and the van safety audit and briefing have been added.

If there are any safety issues, please utilize the unsafe condition reporting tool.  This tool will immediately notify members of the Safety Advocate program to be corrected quickly as possible.

This briefing is provided by union volunteers who are not being compensated by the BNSF. We are here to listen, learn and serve.

  1. Cold weather braking. We have had a significant increase in near misses, run thru switches and other issues due to cold weather braking applications. Remember:
    1. Test your brake system before you actually need it.
    2. Set air earlier than usual.
    3. Slow down and take your time coming into restrictions and stops.

  2. There was an incident this month when a Conductor was struck by a motor vehicle while protecting a grade crossing.  It is not our job to put ourselves into the line of fire of oncoming motor vehicle traffic.  To protect a crossing and yourself at the same time:
    1. Utilize fussee’s keeping in mind that we do not want to start a wild fire in the drier months.
    2. If a fussee’s are not a viable option, stay in a safe location on the ground and instruct the Engineer to slowly creep the engine onto the grade crossing until it is completely occupied, the re-board the locomotive.
    3. If you do not believe you can warn oncoming traffic safely, contact the dispatcher and tell them that you need assistance to make this move.

No Matter what, do not put yourself in position to be struck by a motorist.

GCOR 6.32.2 says:

After a crew member is on the ground at the crossing to warn highway traffic, proceed over the crossing as directed by that crew member.”

It says nothing about putting yourself in the line of fire.

3. Crew vans. As you may have heard, a Conductor lost his life this week while riding in a contract crew van. We have the right to be transported safely or refuse the ride.

TY&E Safety Rule S-1.2.10

“Bill of Rights” Relative to Employees Riding in Transport


A large percentage of our employees are transported to and from various locations. To ensure safety issues are addressed while transporting in vehicles, all employees are empowered to take the necessary steps to ensure a safe workplace for ourselves and our co-workers. Exercise the following rights with regard to riding in transport vehicles.

Right 1

Expect transport vehicles to be properly serviced, maintained, and in good working order. In addition, contract vans must be clean with all seat belts and all safety appliances working.

Right 2

Expect a job safety briefing regarding movements to be made, route to be taken, location of safety appliances, i.e. fire extinguisher, first aid kit, emergency response plan in the event of a medical emergency, etc.

Right 3

Expect the vehicle to be parked in the most accessible, safest location closest to the passenger pick up/drop off location. Consider the surrounding area and vehicle clearances when positioning the vehicle. When practical, stop the vehicle off any public roadways.

Right 4

Expect the vehicle to be secured against movement after it has stopped for loading or unloading passengers and baggage, by placing the vehicle in park, securing the parking brake and shutting off the engine.

Right 5

Expect the vehicle to be positioned, when possible, to avoid backup movement. When necessary to back a vehicle with BNSF employees as passengers, expect the driver to request assistance by positioning a crew member or other employee outside the vehicle, near the back of the vehicle to guide the movement. Before backing a vehicle, the driver and all passengers will conduct a job safety briefing to ensure that employees remain clear of the expected movement.

Right 6

During hazardous weather conditions, expect the driver to not use cruise control, and have the necessary traction devices, studs or chains, when weather requires and allowable by law. If weather reports or actual conditions indicate it is not safe to do so, travel may be canceled or delayed. Immediately notify the dispatcher and your supervisor if the trip is canceled or delayed.

Right 7

Expect that the driver will not be distracted from driving by such things as eating, drinking or operating electronic devices.

Right 8

Expect every van used to transport employees between stations to have a functional two- way radio, which could be a crew member’s pack-set, tuned to the appropriate railroad frequency.

Right 9

Expect that the driver will require all employees to have seat belts on before the vehicle is moved, and will stop the vehicle when the driver is aware that seat belts are removed by any occupant. We cannot safely rely on the driver assuring that all employees remain buckled up after the vehicle is in motion. As co-workers, we are obligated to constantly remind each other to wear seat belts where required and to follow all rules that pertain to our work place.

Right 10

Expect that all doors are securely closed before departure.

Right 11

Expect to be reminded of the BNSF No Smoking Policy, as necessary.

Right 12

Our employees are empowered with the right to refuse to be transported in an unsafe vehicle or be driven by a driver who does not meet the aforementioned criteria. The sole responsibility of our safety cannot rest on just the driver.

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