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Poor training led to accident that seriously hurt Edmonton rail workers: TSB

EDMONTON - The Transportation Safety Board says inadequate training led to an accident that seriously injured rail track maintenance workers in Edmonton.

The three men were struck from behind by a Canadian National freight train on Dec. 26, 2012, as they cleared snow and ice from rail switches.

A report says the men, who were employed by A&B Rail Services, were using noisy portable blowers and failed to hear the train blowing its horn as it rumbled along at 44 km/h.

The investigation revealed CN held a briefing with an A&B supervisor about the job, but the workers weren't there.

The report says the workers were not trained in safety practices and were not directly supervised.

All three were treated in hospital, two of them for serious injuries.

"Despite the railway’s obligation to ensure that others who are granted access to railway property are properly trained and supervised, and despite A&B’s obligation to protect the health and safety of its employees and ensure that its employees are properly trained, the A&B track employees had not been fully trained in safe railway working practices," reads the report.

"They were not being directly supervised, and had not been made aware of the changes to the safety watch procedures that had been made."

The safety board says Transport Canada has received proposals from the railway industry to develop a new rule for track maintenance workers that would require safety watch protection on such jobs, including when only one worker is involved.

It is not clear when Transport Canada will review the proposals or make a decision on whether to put them into effect.

An Alberta occupational health and safety official said Monday the department has reviewed the collision and referred the case to Alberta Justice to determine if charges should be laid.

The deadline for making a decision on charges is late December.

Canada's railways are federally regulated, but A&B Rail Services is a contractor and is provincially regulated.

This is Railway Safety Week in Canada.

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