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FEDERAL STANDARDS FOR RAILROAD SAFETY
MONDAY, MAY 27, 1968
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
The hearing is a continuation of H.R. 16980, introduced by the chairman, Mr. Staggers, and related bills to authorize the Secretary of
Transportation to establish safety standards, rules, and regulations for railroad equipment, trackage, facilities, and operations, and for other purposes.
Our first witness this morning will be Mr. H. C. Daulton, director of safety, Louisville & Nashville Railroad, speaking for the Association of American Railroads. Mr. Daulton.
STATEMENT OF H. C. DAULTON, DIRECTOR OF SAFETY, LOUISVILLE
& NASHVILLE RAILROAD CO., ON BEHALF OF THE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN RAILROADS
Mr. DAULTON. My name is H. C. Daulton, and I am director of safety for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Co. I have held that position since February 16, 1965. I have been employed by the L & N. since March 15, 1928, and have been directly connected with the safety department of that railroad since January 1, 1949.
I have been a member of the steering committee of the safety section of the Association of American Railroads since 1956. In 1961–62 I was chairman of the AAR Safety Section. I have actively participated in the affairs of the railroad section of the National Safety Council since 1949 and have served as general chairman of that section. At present I am a director of the National Safety Council and am a vice chairman of sections as well as a member of the executive committee of its industrial conference. These activities over the years have thrown me in close contact with the safety officers of the Nation's railroads. I am acquainted with what they and their railroads are doing to promote a sa fer place for their men to work and to eliminate needless suffering and death.
I am appearing here today in opposition to H.R. 16980. The statistical justification for the bill that has been advanced by its proponents is incomplete and misleading. Contrary to their assertions, railroad safety is not deteriorating.
Safety is akin to morals and is something that cannot effectively be controlled by legislation. Every railroad has safety rules which are guidelines for its employees to follow so that they may safely perform their duties. Yet with regularity the safety rules are violated and in many instances the man himself or his fellow employees are injured and property is damaged. In saying this I am not criticizing any one class of employee. All classes of employees and officials have a tendency to disregard safety rules at times simply because they are human beings.
Permit me to make some remarks about my own railroad—the L. & N.
In 1964 on the L. & N., we worked 1,665 yard switching crews per reportable injury to yard service employee. In 1967, we worked 2,831 yard switching crews per reportable injury.
In 1964, we operated 143,458 road train-miles per reportable casualty to trainmen. In 1967, that figure was 286,343 road train-miles per reportable casualty to trainmen.
In 1964, we operated 1,143 road trains per reportable injury to trainmen, and in 1967, we operated 2,442 road trains per reportable injury to trainmen.
In 1967 the L. & N. won the National Safety Council's top award for employee safety. For the first 3 months of this year the L. & N. had the lowest employee casualty rate among all railroads working more than 20 million man-hours per year.
The recent comments I have seen made by those who favor this bill seek to justify it chiefly by reference to train accidents. In his letter of April 3, 1968, to Mr. A. Scheffer Lang, Director, Federal Railroad Administration, Mr. Joseph J. O'Connell, Jr., chairman of the National "Transportation Safety Board, stated that there had been an increase in total train accidents, comparing 1961 with 1967. And, in his letter of April 29, to the Honorable Hubert H. Humphrey, President of the Senate, Mr. Alan S. Boyd, Secretary of Transportation, said:
In the past 7 years, the monthly average of train accidents has increased steadily from 341 in 1961 to an estimated 590 for 1967. One logical result of this increase in accidents has been an increase in casualty rates per million manhours worked during the same period.
The statements of Mr. O'Connell and Secretary Boyd that there has been an increase in the number of train accidents reported are correct so far as they go, but they do not tell the whole story.
Over the last 7 years fewer than 8 percent of the train accidents experienced by the railroads produced any reportable casualties. Attached to my statement is table A which bears that out.
To a safety man, such as accident category is in itself without major significance in determining whether safety is good or bad, improving or deteriorating. Safety is basically a matter of life and limb, and train accidents as such are obviously a poor guide to what is happening in the area of railroad safety.
In confining themselves to the discussion of train accidents only, the Secretary of Transportation and the Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board are considering only one part of the picture, and, at that, a part that is not of great significance.
First, it is important to consider what train accidents are, what is their relation to railroad safety, and how railroad reporting requirements compare to those of other industries.
The Interstate Commerce Commission has defined a train accident as one involving the operation of trains which results in damage to railroad property aggregating $750 or more, excluding the cost of clearing. This definition has been taken over by the Department of Transportation. The sole criterion is the monetary damage to railroad property.
For this reason, it does not logically follow that train accidents result in casualties. Some do—but the great majority do not result in death or injury to any person. Between 1961 and 1967, inclusive, train accidents never accounted for more than 5.9 percent of all railroad casualties, and in the last 3 of those years they were less than 4 percent (table B).
A substantial number of train accidents, year by year moreover, are grade crossing accidents, which are more an element of highway than of railroad safety.
Even if one were to assume that casualties in train accidents are significant as a measure of railroad safety, the Secretary and the Chairman of the Board have not presented the complete picture. Both of them stress the increase in the number of train accidents in recent years. Neither of them, however, has stated the fact that during this same period casualties resulting from train accidents have decreased from 1.220 in 1961 to 924 in 1967, or a positive improvement of 24.3 percent.
The $750 limit for reporting train accidents was set by the Interstate Commerce Commission effective January 1, 1957. There has been no subsequent adjustment since that date to take into account the increase in prices and wages. The railroads are reporting more accidents today in part because the cost minimum has not kept pace with the times.
The dollar measure of train accidents has been stressed by other witnesses; but I do not believe any witness has mentioned the fact that casualty reporting required of railroads also differs from that required of other industries, whether for train accidents or any other kind of accident.
Under rules promulgated by the Interstate Commerce Commission following enactment of the Accident Reports Act, which were in effect prior to 1961, a reportable fatality is one which results in death within 24 hours after the hour of the accident; and a reportable injury used to be one which resulted in incapacitation of the injured employee for more than 72 hours within the 10-day period—240 hours—immediately following the accident.
In revised reporting rules issued by the Commission, effective January 1, 1961, the definition of a reportable injury was changed to cover incapacitation of the injured employee for more than 24 hours within the 10 days—240 hours—immediately following the accident. The theory for shortening of the period for reportability from 72 hours to 24 hours presumably was that the railroads should be on the same basis as all other industries.
The railroads are governed by rigid Federal law in reporting casualties. Under Department of Transportation rules, an injured employee must be able to return to duty within 24 hours and to the same job he was performing at the time he was injured for the case not to be considered reportable.
Industry generally follows United States of America Standards Institute Standard Ž.16-1 which permits an injured employee to return to any regularly established job. This standard permits a machinist who is injured and cannot return to operating his machine to be placed on, for example, a job in the stockroom counting or issuing tools or materials.
However, a railroad section laborer who is injured laying rails must be able to perform all the duties of his job and cannot be used on a less strenuous, but regularly established, job such as sorting track bolts or providing flag protection.
Too, other industry is permitted to rely upon what the attending physician has to say about an injured employee's incapacity; but the railroads, while they may consider what the doctor says, must rely ultimately on the employee's statement as to his ability to work. Å doctor may examine an allegedly injured railroad employee, find no evidence of any injury, and release the man for return to work, but if the man himself believes that he cannot work, the railroads must consider the case reportable.
Thus, it can be seen that the railroads still are not on the same reporting basis as industry generally. If they were, the statistical safety record would be correspondingly improved.
Those who have used air services have heard the oft-repeated admonition of the stewardess to remain seated and keep seatbelts fastened until the pilot has brought the engines to a stop. This warning serves a twofold purpose : first, the airline does not want its passengers to be hurt and, second, if an accident occurs to a passenger after the engines have been stopped, it is not considered reportable.
On the other hand, if a train has come to a complete stop and a passenger or crew member falls down the steps of a coach in detraining and is injured, the railroads are required to report such an occurrence as a “train service" accident. This is another area in which these two modes of transportation are not on the same basis.
The year 1960 was the last year that the railroads were accorded a 72-hour period for reporting employee injuries. During that year, there were reported to the Interstate Commerce Commission 13,245 employee injuries. In 1961, when the reporting period was shortened to 24 hours, there were reported 19,682 employee injuries, or a 48.6-percent increase.
However, since 1961, there has been a marked decline in total railroad employee casualties. In 1961, deaths and injuries totaled 19,819, and in 1967-according to preliminary Federal Railroad Administration figures—they totaled 17,466, an 11.9-percent decrease. Since 1961, total casualties to all classes of persons in all types of railroad accidents have also declined. In 1961 there were 29,245 such casualties and in 1967, according to preliminary figures, there were 26,652. This is a decline of 8.9-percent (table C).
This, in my opinion, is more meaningful than any statistics about numbers of “train accidents.”
Under existing reporting rules, casualties to railroad employees are divided into three categories. The first is "train accidents” which I have already described.
The second category is "train service” accidents, which encompasses any casualty which occurs in an accident arising in connection with the operation or movement of trains or cars and which does not damage