Lunenburg, Massachusetts
    DIVISION 191 
  Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen


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SOFA report for November 2020: Three switching fatalities in 90 days

Posted on December 13, 2020 at 11:35 AM

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, December 8 — The Switching Operations Fatality Analysis (SOFA) Working Group has published its most recent Safety Alert, reminding workers to remain vigilant in light of three switching fatalities in the 90 day period from August to November.


As a cross-industry collaboration for over 20 years, the SOFA Working Group has identified the Possible Contributing Factors for more than 210 switching operations fatalities since 1992. The SOFA Working Group reports its findings and emerging data trends with the goal of zero fatalities in the railroad industry.


The three fatalities occurred in Crossett, AR (August 13), Richmond, VA (October 11) and Tuscola, IL (November 11). According to SOFA’s November 2020 Safety Alert: “While these recent cases have not yet been analyzed, the SOFA Working Group is concerned by the 159 injuries that occurred this year through August 31, 2020 and reminds all employees to remain vigilant during switching operations by not only protecting the shove movement, but also protecting themselves by avoiding close or no clearances hazards. Last, but not least, remember to always hold a job briefing whenever the job or situation changes.”


The SOFA Group issues regular Safety Alerts to help achieve its goal of eliminating switching injuries and fatalities. The group was formed in February of 1998 at the request of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to review switching operations accident reports and to develop recommendations for reducing fatalities and injuries.


The BLET is a part of the SOFA Working Group, along with representatives from the FRA, Association of American Railroads (AAR), American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), SMART-Transportation Division, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center. The BLET’s representative is Vice President & National Legislative Representative Vince Verna.


SOFA also noted in its November 2020 Safety Alert that 1 in 4 switching operations fatalities is due to a close or no clearance. The report provides instructions on how to avoid such potentially deadly situations.


Click here to download a PDF of SOFA’s November 2020 Safety Alert:


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