“Safety needs to come from the top.” You’ve probably heard that one before. However, a federal agency had to remind a public transit provider of that again in its report on what caused a fatal train crash in Washington, DC.
A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) final report on the June 22, 2009, Metro train crash says it was due to chronic track circuit failures and a negligent attitude toward safety. The crash killed a driver and eight passengers and injured scores of others.
NTSB members said safety wasn’t made a priority by the senior management or board of directors of the public transit agency. Metro’s chairman hadn’t included safety oversight in the board’s mission statement.
NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman noted that Metro hadn’t implemented many previous NTSB recommendations. “They are not hearing it, they are not getting it and they are not addressing the problems,” Hersman said. “Our frustration is that if they don’t listen this time, I am not sure what can be done.”
Metro’s interim General Manager Richard Sarles said he’d “carefully consider” the NTSB recommendations. Sarles stopped short of saying Metro would implement the recommendations in the final report.
When an investigation into workplace deaths shows a lack of attention to safety at the top of an organization, how should top managers be held accountable? Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below.