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October 10, 2017
BART guilty in workers’ deaths: Must pay $220,000 fine and revise safety procedures

On October 6, 2017, an Administrative Law Judge for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a decision against the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) for two fatalities that occurred in Contra Costa County in 2013. As a result of the decision, BART must pay a fine of $219,666.67, submit to increased CPUC oversight, and revamp its safety programs and procedures.

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The case stems from an incident that occurred on October 19, 2013, when a BART train struck and killed a BART manager and a BART contractor who were working on tracks between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill stations. A joint investigation of the accident was conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), BART, the CPUC, and Cal/OSHA. The investigation findings alleged that BART, through several of its veteran managers, violated multiple safety rules. The judge’s decision not only validated the investigation findings, but further concluded that the violations were egregious, in part because they were committed by BART’s top-level veteran managers, and reflected BART’s organizational and management culture and attitudes toward safety at the time of the incident.

Cal/OSHA issued fines of $210,000 against BART in 2014, for three willful-serious violations of Cal/OSHA standards. The CPUC’s decision fined BART an additional $659,000, however, two-thirds of the fine was stayed by CPUC. In lieu of the stayed fine, BART has been placed on probation for three years, during which it must:

  • Immediately begin tracking and submitting to the CPUC all applicable violations of safety rules, practices, policies, or procedures and details of corrective actions taken, including disciplinary actions (local, state, federal, internal, and external safety rules).
  • Reevaluate its current safety training programs and culture within six months of the decision, and devise and begin implementing a plan to improve the effectiveness of its current safety training programs and methods of improving its safety culture throughout the organization
  • Develop and begin implementing annual safety rules, practices, policies, procedures, and culture refresher courses within six months for all managers who are entrusted to comply with and/or enforce worker safety rules, practices, policies, procedures, and/or culture. The refresher course must be at least a 40 hour course, and BART must submit annual certifications for each manager completing the refresher to the CPUC.
  • Annually brief the CPUC on BART’s annual safety report and all updates on BART’s efforts to continually improve its safety culture and enhanced compliance with all of the applicable safety rules, practices, policies, and procedures.

The remaining fine is due and payable to the state’s General Fund within 60 days of the decision.

During the three year probationary period, the CPUC’s Safety and Enforcement Division will monitor BART’s compliance with the decision. After two years, the Safety and Enforcement Division will prepare a recommendation on whether BART’s probation should be extended beyond three years.

BART has 30 days to appeal the decision.

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