January 4, 2014

WASHINGTON (Jan. 3)—Only one U.S. railroad employee lost his life in a switching accident in 2013—the lowest number in the industry’s history and what could be the overture to the first year in which no fatalities occur at all.

“I am not superstitious about saying I believe we are in sight of our first zero-fatality year in switching operations,” said UTU Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy. “The numbers show the trend clearly is there. Railroad crew work has become safer year over year. Although there has been some fluctuation, with fatalities falling one year and rising again in the next, the overall long-term trend has continued to be downward as crew members and their supervisors intensify their focus on safe work practices in a safer work environment.”

Guy said he based his feelings on a 2013 4th-quarter report from the Switching Operations Fatality Analysis (SOFA) team, a voluntary partnership of members from railroad labor, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Association of American Railroads (AAR).