The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently issued two new safety advisories, one concerning king pin assemblies in highway-rail grade crossing warning systems, and another focused on ensuring worker safety around roadway maintenance machines (RMMs).
According to FRA, the first safety advisory warns railroads of the potential failure of king pin assemblies and advises railroads to “inspect and replace all worn components in king pin assemblies.” The advisory also recommends that railroads “develop inspection and maintenance programs for these assemblies.”
Described in the advisory (download below) is the way king pin assemblies can break if worn or damaged, increasing the likelihood that a crossing gate can fall suddenly, potentially injuring any individuals nearby. The advisory also contains images of defective king pins and king pin assemblies.
To “ensure the safety of the Nation’s railroads, their employees, and the general public,” FRA recommends that railroads take the following actions:
- “Inspect king pin assemblies in highway-rail grade crossing warning systems and replace all worn components.
- “Develop inspection and maintenance programs for king pin assemblies that incorporate maintenance procedures recommended by the manufacturer (if applicable), including lubrication of king pin assemblies to reduce wear and tear on the components. These inspection and maintenance programs should include periodic inspections of the king pin assembly with the crossing gate removed, as well as inspection of the king pin assembly each time the crossing gate is re-hung or replaced. These inspection and maintenance programs should also address the replacement of worn components and give special consideration to highway-rail grade crossing warning systems that are exposed to high levels of salt, which can cause corrosion.
- “Issue instructions requiring employees to stay clear of descending crossing gates until fully lowered and to discuss potential failure of the king pin assembly in job safety briefings, when applicable. Railroads should also issue instructions requiring employees to warn others to stay clear of descending crossing gates until fully lowered.”
The second advisory (download below) focuses on the safety of roadway workers who operate or work near RMMs. Considering two incidents since 2021 where workers were struck and killed by RMMs on main line track, the FRA “urges railroads to review rules and procedures meant to protect roadway workers.”
FRA recommends that railroads and railroad contractors:
- “Review, update, and communicate applicable rules and procedures related to the operation of RMMs to ensure the safety of roadway workers who operate and work with or around the machines.
- “Increase monitoring of roadway workers, railroad employees, and contractors for compliance with all existing applicable rules and procedures (and any updated rules and procedures to result from paragraph (1)), particularly those involving the operation of RMMs and roadway workers working on and in the vicinity of RMMs.
- “Conduct additional safety briefings to raise workers’ awareness of the hazards associated with operating and working around RMMs.”
Railroads and contractors, FRA says, should not only review and update rules but communicate any changes to employees and monitor employees for compliance with current and updated rules and procedures.