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Lack of training on safe working practices led to fatal collision at railway crossing

Investigation report released by Transportation Safety Board
| www.cos-mag.com
An investigation report found that a lack of training on safe working practices led to a fatal collision between a snowplow and a train at a railway crossing. Shutterstock

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has found that a lack of training on safe working practices when clearing snow at railway crossings led to a fatal collision between a snowplow and a Canadian National Railway train at a crossing in London, Ont.

On Jan. 9, 2018, a CN freight train proceeding eastward struck a snowplow on the sidewalk at the Colborne Street public crossing, fatally injuring the lone snowplow operator, according to a press release on the investigation report released July 17.

The investigation found that the accident occurred when the snowplow travelled on to the railway crossing while clearing snow from the sidewalk. Although the warning devices — including flashing lights, a bell and gates — activated while the plow was in the crossing, the combination of the plow's position, the restricted visibility inside the cab and the background noise of the plow itself made it difficult to detect these warnings or to hear the train's horn, according to the press release. A lack of experience with railway crossings, a lack of training on safe working practices when clearing snow at railway crossings and tunnel vision exacerbated by fatigue inhibited the effectiveness of the snowplow operator's visual scanning, so the operator did not detect the oncoming train, said the report.

The investigation also found that the contractor and subcontractor involved in this case did not provide formal training to their employees on safe working practices when clearing snow at railway crossings, although the City of London provided training to its employees who operate snowplows; therefore, oversight by the contractor and the City of London did not ensure that employees had the skills and knowledge to perform their duties safely, according to report.

Following this event, the City of London required snowplow operators employed by its sidewalk snow-clearing contractors to participate in a city-led review of safe operating practices at railway crossings, said the press release.

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