Disregard for Employee Safety

The following is an email I received from a coworker a few months ago — well after the accident in January 2010, in which two (2) ATC technicians were killed.  After management had pledged to ‘get serious about safety’.

Not only is what is described in the email inexcusable, in the other 50 states it would likely be considered reckless endangerment. At Metro, it’s business as usual.

It sounds like [Tech#1] quite possibly saved someone from serious injury by persisting and not just blindly accepting what “Homer” at the Maintenance Operations Center (MOC) told them.

This is just another in a long list of examples of why technicians and mechanics cannot trust Metro management. They have demonstrated over and over again that employee safety and welfare is not exactly their top priority. The deaths of several workers seems to have had little effect on the prevailing attitude.

#####

Shortly after I arrived at work today [an Automatic Train Control (ATC) supervisor – #1] told me our crew had to go to Friendship Heights (A08) after rush hour to replace two loose clamps at the receiver of [track circuit] A2-309.

A while later [another ATC supervisor – #2] called and said the same thing.

The receiver is against the insulated joints (IJs) of the interlocking. I don’t like disconnecting anything there because all the traction power return goes through the [impedance] bond’s center tap to the shorting bar on the other side of the IJs. [Tech#2] and I decided that it might be ok if we do only one side at a time.

~~~~~

This photo was taken from the inbound end of the platform at Shady Grove (A15), but it shows what my coworker referred to above.  In the center of the photo between the rails are two gray metal ‘boxes’.  They are the ‘impedance bond’ and ‘tuning unit’ (or in this case, trade name “Wee-Z bond”).  The clamps that had to be replaced are on the rails beside the bond.  They are part of the electrical connection between the bond and  the rails.  One of these clamps can be seen on the far/outside rail, just this side of the yellow piece (which is part of the IJ).

The photo below shows some rail clamps:

~~~~~

Fortunately, [Tech#1] was with us. He told us that the day crew at National Airport (C10) was in the same situation this week. Tech#1 said that when the crew removed one of the clamps the IJ exploded.

[Tech#2] called Homer at MOC, but Homer told [Tech#2] to go ahead and replace the clamps anyway. [Tech#1] said that [yet another ATC supervisor – #3] knew about the incident, so [Tech#2] called him to ask what to do. [Supv. #3] told [Tech#2] not to replace the clamps during revenue.

Later, I checked Maximo and found an emergency Track Dept work order to replace a burnt IJ at C10 a few days earlier.

It’s quite possible that [Supv. #1] and [Supv. #2] were unaware of the incident at C10, but It’s inexcusable for management not to promptly warn everyone after any incident like this.

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