Safety Considerations for Working Near or Around a Train Line

When you’re overseeing the construction of a road, street or highway, you’re responsible for the job site which contains many safety risks. From heavy machinery to dangerous power tools, there are many things to watch out for. Project sites may also contain hazardous areas such as scaffolding, high platforms and confined spaces that usually require specialized training for all onsite personnel. You’re also expected to direct the traveling public through the job site, using traffic control devices such as signs, barriers and barricades as necessary. When the project is near or around a railroad, the potential dangers increase. Here are some things to consider.

Railroad Track Safety

It goes without saying that construction equipment is no match for an oncoming train. Just as car drivers are expected to stay off the railroad tracks, this is especially true for construction crew members whether they’re on foot or operating a construction vehicle. Because workers will constantly be around train tracks, there needs to be formal training on best practices for working around the railroad. This should be done in accordance with the railroad owner’s preferences.

Railroad Yard Considerations

If the construction work is inside a railroad yard, the potential for collisions increases significantly. There may be a greater frequency of train arrivals in a yard. These work areas combine outdoor elements such as train tracks with indoor systems such as buried lines that may contain electricity, gas, water or compressed air service which may be struck by heavy equipment. Trains may make frequent stops and change directions constantly in a yard for loading and unloading.

Personal Protective Equipment

On any construction job, workers should be wearing personal protective equipment or PPE at all times. Typically this includes such items as hard hats, steel toe boots and safety goggles among other items to protect parts of workers’ bodies from work zone hazards. An essential PPE item for roadway crews is a safety vest that is designed to be highly reflective and visible. A railroad owner may have more restrictive rules for the color and reflectivity of safety vests worn by those working on or around a set of tracks.

As a road construction manager, your clients and your crew expect you to do all that you can to make the job site as safe as possible. The presence of an active railroad increases the safety risks due to the potential for collision with an oncoming train which cannot stop quickly or easily. Coordinate with the railroad owner for requirements when it comes to working on or near the tracks.

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