In late October, the federal government once again passed legislation extending the deadline for railroads to comply with new safety regulations. The bill's passage appears to be good news for the railroad executives who had voiced concern over the economic impact of the new legislation. However, the news may not be so good for Pennsylvania railroad workers who are at high risk for workplace accidents.
The passage of the bill extends the amount of time railroads have to install what is known as positive train control. PTC uses technology, including GPS, to maintain control of trains in hopes of preventing accidents due to excessive speed. When the legislation goes into effect, all railroads carrying passengers or liquids that have the potential to become toxic in a gaseous state will be required to have the technology installed and in use.
The National Transportation Safety Board has been a supporter of the technology for years. According to the NTSB's statistics, approximately 300 deaths and nearly 7,000 injuries could have been prevented had the technology been in place. With the passage of the new legislation, the railroads now have until the end of 2018 to install the technology.
Railroad workers in Pennsylvania now have more than three years to wait for technology that could help reduce the number of workplace accidents in the state. Fortunately for those who are unable to avoid injuries, workers' compensation benefits are available. These benefits will cover medical expenses stemming from injuries and replace a portion of workers' lost wages.
Source: lancasteronline.com, "Congress delays train safety technology mandate 3 to 5 years", Joan Lowy, Oct. 28, 2015