BART fined $210,000 for accident killing two workers

A BART helmet right near the site of the accident that killed two transit workers.

The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration is fining Bay Area Rapid Transit $210,000 for three "willful/serious" safety violations connected to the death of two transit workers, citing a lack of safety measures at BART as the fault of their deaths. BART was fined maximum amounts allowed for the offenses, officials said. 

"Employers have a responsibility to ensure worker safety," acting Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum said in a statement. "Safety standards are designed to save lives and they were not followed."

Two transit workers were killed October last year during the final days of the BART strike. As we reported then, Christopher Sheppard, a BART manager and member of the AFSCME union, and Larry Daniels, a contractor, were inspecting a “dip in the rail” before they were hit by an oncoming train. The two workers were required to go through what’s called a Simple Approval process to get permission to work on the track.

It's that Simple Approval process that came under fire in the citation.

"Employer's control method, namely the 'Simple Approval' procedure, does not safeguard personnel working on tracks during railcar movement," the citation reads. "The employer allowed workers to conduct work on the railway tracks where trains were travelling in excess of sixty-five (65) miles-per-hour."

"The employees had no warning that a train moving at more than 65 miles-per-hour was on the C1 railway track approaching the location where they were working."

BART General Manager Grace Crunican quickly issued a statement.

“Passenger and employee safety is our top priority at BART.  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," she said. "Cal/OSHA has informed BART these changes correct the concerns which are at the heart of their citations, designating the issues as ‘abated,’ meaning that none are continuing violations or pose continuing safety hazards."

The statement goes on to say that BART meets CPUC safety standards, though as we've seen with PG&E (San Bruno) and Uber (the New Year's Eve death of Sofia Liu), those standards have been demonstrated to be at times, lax. 

The three violations were deemed "abated" within the citaiton. The citation tasked BART with reassigning job assignments of untrained personell, not allowing unqualified workers near energized equipment and facilities, and "controls to safeguard personell during railcar movement shall be instituted."

Simple Approval has since been terminated, BART Spokesperson Alicia Trost told the Guardian.

"BART permanantly eliminated Simple Approval immediately following the tragic deaths," she said. "We now require work orders for anyone who goes wayside.  We are also implementing the extra layers of protection for track workers."

Notably, the two workers were killed as BART management attempted to train managers to operate trains during the strike, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, who is investigating the incident.


Left, a dimly lit BART tunnel. Right, an oncoming train. BART has been cited for safety issues by CAL/OSHA before, including lighting issues which some say led to the death of another BART worker years ago.

The citation specifically lambasts flimsy safety process of Simple Approval, the process workers formerly used to keep the Operations Control Center “aware of the presence of personnel in a specified location in the trackway,” according to BART training manuals. When workers are preparing to work on a track, they recited the simple approval to the Operations Control Center, also known as central control. It works like signing a waiver, saying that you understand the rules of safety, and more importantly, that you can work on the track without diverting trains. 

This isn't the first time BART has run afoul of CAL/OSHA citations, they've racked up over 20 in the past years. A hearing held shortly after the two workers' death also brought many of these problems to light.

Shortly after the accident, Saul Almanza, a longtime BART safety trainer, told us the section of track the two workers died on crested the hill a little bit.” Having a sight line is important, he said, because you can’t use your ears to hear a train coming.

“It’s like a jet flying over you, you don’t hear it until it’s past you,” he explained. “I always teach in my class: ‘You don’t listen for trains, you look for trains.’"

Below we've embedded the citations issued to BART.

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) citations for death of two workers from CAL/OSHA by FitztheReporter


For obvious reasons.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 12:21 pm

Ummmm really??? That's funny because it was a dangerous policy used by MANAGEMENT, who was having MANAGEMENT run trains when they had not run trains in years or even decades--which is dangerous. For obvious reasons.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

because the regular operators had withheld their labor out of greed. An act which, BTW, would be illegal in many places.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 1:14 pm

No, it was because of safety issues.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 1:30 pm

job it was to make it safe decided that they did not want to.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

The "safety issues" was bullshit used to cover their real motive of getting more money. The safety issues that the union raised were centered around people who worked inside the stations. Bulletproof safety glass for the ticket booths? Was there ever an incident where someone fired a gun at a booth attendant?

They also tried to point to the naked Bart guy as proof that the attendants were in danger. From what I remember of the video, the attendant locked himself inside his booth and was just fine while the man assaulted female passengers. In the interest of fairness though, the man was eventually stopped by a Bart janitor. So kudos to him and boo to the other male riders who let the women get attacked and didn't intervene.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 1:54 pm

save a passenger in danger. They just want to save themselves.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 2:10 pm

females inside her booth and locked the door. Give credit where credit is due.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 2:36 pm

And ensured that she was safer than the victims

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 3:05 pm

Which is protect an innocent person and wait until an armed response arrives.

Are you stupid? Just curious if you're the same idiot who's always posting in PGE's defense on why shit happens when neighborhoods blow up - and all those goddam complainers whose families were incinerated should just STFU and suck it up.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 3:49 pm

Rather than cower in her bullet-proof booth.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 4:02 pm

Ahh the sweet irony of listening to an internet commenter who *chose* to register anonymously and list his name as "Guest" berating a civilian who helped a crime victim while on the clock.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 10:12 am

Anyone can post as anyone here, so we are all equally anonymous.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 10:31 am

I don't fault her for not engaging the suspect. But screw the male riders who walked by and didn't bother to help the women being attacked. And a double screw you to the idjit who just sat there with his camera and videotaped the incident without doing anything to help. S/he didn't even need to physically engage the suspect, they could've yelled for help and asked other people to help too.

This also shows that it's much, much more dangerous to be a Bart rider rather than a booth attendant. When crazy shows up, the attendant can lock themselves in the booth, while everyone else is left to fend for themselves.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 4:09 pm

Fair enough. Partial kudos to her for helping the woman. But what about the other women who were attacked?

You kind of also proved my point that the booths are safe enough. Claiming the need for bulletproof glass??? When has there ever been someone who shot at a station agent? Hell, I'd like to know if there was ever an incident where a gun was even shown to a station agent, let alone pulled one on them.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 4:03 pm
Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 5:30 pm

The union shouldn't pay for BART's negligence. What if a passenger had died, would you blame the unions then? Where does the unions responsibility end and management's begin? As a union employee I wasn't driving the train, BART management was, and it was clearly a mistake. Would you operate a train?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 12:57 am
Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 7:01 am

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