The Voice of the Railroad Construction Industry

FRA & FTA Safety Advisories

For a full and updated list for all FRA safety advisories and emergency orders click here.

Selected FRA safety advisories and emergency orders that are particularly relevant to NRC members are highlighted below.


Identification and Mitigation of Hazards Through Job Safety Briefings and Hazard Recognition Strategies (November 28, 2016)
FRA is issuing Safety Advisory 2016–02 out of concern for the number of railroad and railroad contractor fatalities that occur when roadway workers perform certain activities that fall outside the scope of FRA’s safety regulations, but within the purview of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) regulations. FRA is issuing this Safety Advisory to remind railroads and railroad contractors, and their employees (including roadway workers) of the importance of identifying hazardous conditions at job locations, conducting thorough job safety briefings to discuss the hazardous conditions, and taking appropriate actions to mitigate those conditions. This Safety Advisory reminds railroads, railroad contractors, and their respective employees that OSHA’s job safety regulations may apply to certain roadway worker activities and makes recommendations for hazard recognition strategies and challenge procedures that could improve roadway worker safety while roadway workers are engaged in activities subject to OSHA’s regulations. FRA considers this Safety Advisory responsive to the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) Recommendations R–14–33, R–14–35, and R–14–36. 
To view the full text, click here. 


Movement of Roadway Maintenance Machines Over Highway-Rail Grade Crossings (March 17, 2016)
FRA recently completed its investigation into a fatal accident that occurred when an on-track roadway maintenance machine traveling on main track collided with a motor vehicle at a highway-rail grade crossing. FRA is issuing this Safety Advisory 2016–01 to heighten rules compliance and situational awareness of railroads, railroad contractors, and their respective employees when operating roadway maintenance machines over highwayrail grade crossings. This Safety Advisory makes recommendations to railroads and railroad contractors regarding the need to review, update, and follow rules and procedures governing the safe movement of roadway maintenance equipment over highway-rail grade crossings. 
To view the full text, click here. 


Addressing Rail Head Surface Conditions Identified during the Internal Rail Inspection Process? (November 3, 2015)
FRA is issuing this Safety Advisory No. 2015-05 to remind track owners (typically railroads), their track maintenance personnel, and their rail flaw detection equipment operators of the importance of complying with their rail management programs and engineering procedures that address rail with rail head surface conditions while performing rail flaw inspections and track inspections generally. 
To view the full text, click here. 


Ballast Defects and Conditions—Importance of Identification and Repair in Preventing Development of Unsafe Combinations of Track Conditions (August 20, 2015)
FRA is issuing this safety advisory to emphasize the importance of timely repairing ballast defects and conditions on main tracks. FRA notes that ballast defects and ballast conditions that are not repaired in a timely manner can lead to future defects. 
To view the full text, click here.


Roadway Worker Authority Limits— Importance of Clear Communication, Compliance with Applicable Rules and Procedures, and Ensuring that Appropriate Safety Redundancies Are in Place in the Event of Miscommunication or Error; Correction (December 1, 2014)
On November 25, 2014, FRA published a document in the Federal Register to reemphasize the importance of clear communication and compliance with applicable rules and procedures regarding roadway worker authority limits on controlled track, and to ensure that appropriate safety redundancies are in place to protect against miscommunication or error. The document contained an incorrect job designation (‘‘foreman’’ instead of ‘‘roadway worker in charge’’) for an employee in the first incident discussed in the safety advisory that resulted in an employee fatality, and an incorrect location (‘‘Danbury,’’ instead of ‘‘West Haven,’’ Connecticut) for the second incident that also resulted in an employee fatality. The safety advisory otherwise remains unchanged. 
To view the full text, click here.


Roadway Worker Authority Limits— Importance of Clear Communication, Compliance With Applicable Rules and Procedures, and Ensuring That Appropriate Safety Redundancies Are in Place in the Event of Miscommunication or Error (November 25, 2014)
FRA is issuing Safety Advisory 2014–02 to reemphasize the importance of clear communication and compliance with applicable rules and procedures regarding roadway worker authority limits on controlled track. FRA believes it is necessary to issue this advisory in light of the miscommunication or error involved in recent roadway worker incidents that occurred at locations that were either outside of authority limits or within authority limits that were no longer protected due to dispatcher error. This safety advisory recommends that railroads monitor their employees for compliance with existing applicable rules and procedures and that they also examine their train dispatching systems, rules, and procedures to ensure that appropriate safety redundancies are in place in the event of miscommunication or error. In addition, this safety advisory recommends that if a railroad determines that appropriate safety redundancies are not in place, the railroad should adopt electronic technology that would provide appropriate safety redundancies, and adopt certain interim safety measures and procedures at least until such technology is in place. 
To view the full text, click here.


Joint Failure on Continuous Welded Rail Track (August 5, 2013)
FRA is issuing Safety Advisory 2013–05 to remind railroad track owners about the importance of reviewing current, internal continuous welded rail (CWR) plans and properly inspecting CWR joints to identify and correct locations that indicate potential joint failure that may cause a derailment. FRA is issuing this notice in response to two recent train derailments. Although the causes of these derailments are still under investigation, preliminary evidence suggests that failed joint bars played a significant role in both derailments. This notice reminds railroad track owners that they must comply with the requirements of their CWR plan procedures regarding  inspecting track to identify indications of potential joint failure in CWR track, especially that of compromise joints. This notice also recommends that railroad track owners review their CWR plans to ensure that the instructions properly identify the necessary track maintenance procedures to remedy indications of potential joint failure that lead to rapid failure of joint bars. Finally, the notice recommends that railroad track owners follow good maintenance practices to ensure the joints are adequately supported and, wherever possible, eliminate joints in CWR, especially compromise joints in passenger and hazardous material routes. 
To view the full text, click here.

Buckling-Prone Conditions in Continuous Welded Rail Track (July 9, 2012)
FRA is issuing Safety Advisory 2012–03 to remind track owners, railroads, and their employees of the importance of complying with their continuous welded rail (CWR) plan procedures and reviewing their current internal engineering instructions that address inspecting CWR track to identify buckling-prone conditions. In an effort to heighten awareness of the potential consequences of an unexpected track buckle, particularly considering the unusually high, and prolonged, record-breaking temperatures that have affected much of the United States in recent weeks, this notice highlights a series of recent train accidents involving derailments that were preliminarily determined by the respective railroads to be caused by the rail buckling under extreme heat conditions (commonly referred to as ‘‘sun kinks’’ in the rail). This notice contains recommendations to track owners and railroads to ensure their employees comply with the requirements of their CWR plan procedures that address inspecting track to identify buckling-prone conditions in CWR track, particularly if the track is located on or near railroad bridges. It also recommends that track owners and railroads review current internal engineering instructions to ensure that the instructions properly identify the necessary track maintenance instructions to prevent track buckling during extreme heat conditions. 
To view the full text, click here.


Railroad Bridge Safety—Explanation and Amplification of FRA’s ‘‘Statement of Agency Policy on the Safety of Railroad Bridges." (September 11, 2007)
FRA is issuing Safety Advisory 2007–03 recommending that owners of track carried on one or more railroad bridges adopt safety practices to prevent the deterioration of railroad bridges and reduce the risk of casualties from train derailments caused by structural failures of such bridges. 
To view the full text, click here.


Provides interested parties guidance on the proper application of existing statutory and regulatory requirements concerning self-propelled specialized maintenance equipment (January 26, 2007)
FRA is issuing Safety Advisory 2007-02 in order to provide interested parties guidance on the proper application of existing statutory and regulatory requirements concerning self-propelled specialized maintenance equipment. This document also strongly recommends that owners and operators of such equipment properly inspect the equipment and ensure that properly qualified individuals are operating and piloting the equipment while in transit. To view the full text, click here.


Addresses recommended safety practices and reviews existing requirements for the protection of roadway workers from traffic on adjacent tracks and to heighten awareness to prevent the inadvertent fouling of track when on-track safety is not provided  (May 3, 2004)
The FRA is issuing Safety Advisory 2004-01 to address recommended safety practices and review existing requirements for the protection of roadway workers from traffic on adjacent tracks and to heighten awareness to prevent the inadvertent fouling of track when ontrack safety is not provided. To view the full text, click here.

FRA Amends Rail Failure Prevention Program Guidance from RSAC Working Group

The FRA RSAC Rail Failure Working Group (RFWG) recently developed a consensus document describing an enhanced Rail Failure Prevention Program. The document was approved by the full RSAC on April 15, 2014, and was issued to the industry by FRA Administrator Szabo on August 8, 2014. The intent of this document by the RFWG was to provide the industry with recommended guidance and best practices for proper rail maintenance in an effort to prevent rail failure.

View the FRA's Rail Failure Prevention Guidance Document

View letters sent from FRA to the heads of APTA, AAR, and ASLRRA



FTA Issues Safety Advisory of Enhanced Protections for Wayside Workers

On 12/31/13 FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff issued a Letter to provide notice of FTA-recommended safety guidance in the wake of two urgent safety recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on 12/19/13. In addition to the Administrator's letter, FTA Issued Safety Advisory 14-1 and a request for information.

For the full letter see fta.dot.gov.

To see the Safety Advisory, click here.

FRA Issues Emergency Order and Joint Safety Advisory in Wake of MM&A Quebec Accident

On 8/7/2013, in light of the devastating accident in Quebec, Canada on July 6, 2013, the FRA issued Emergency Order 28 and Safety Advisory 2013-06 to the railroad industry.

EO 28 does not mirror the restrictions that Transport Canada recently imposed upon its railroads. Instead, the FRA, for the most part, has reiterated and reinforced what it believes to be sound operating practices in the securement of trains with hazardous material and the notification of and approval of railroad officials, when those trains have been stored on main tracks and mainline sidings or are awaiting another train crew.

The Safety Advisory focuses on crew size, securement practices, and efficiency testing of securement practices, hazard analysis, and other factors that may increase safety. It also questions the classification of certain types of hazardous materials and requests that shippers and carriers of hazardous materials evaluate existing security plans.

To view Emergency Order 28, click here.

On 8/21/2013, the FRA issued a document providing guidance and interpretation f the provisions in EO28. To view the document, click here.

To view Safety Advisory 2013-06, click here.

FRA Releases Safety Advisory on Review of Internal CWR Plans and CWR Joints

On 8/5/13, the FRA released Safety Advisory 2013-5 to remind railroad track owners about the importance of reviewing current internal CWR plans and properly inspecting CWR joints. Recent accidents in the New York City metropolitan area have prompted the advisory.

Recommended actions include, "Wherever possible, eliminate joints in CWR, especially compromise joints in passenger and hazardous material routes," and "If joint bars (and particularly compromise joint bars) are found cracked or broken between the middle two bolt holes after a relatively short time after installation, determine the root cause that led to the premature failure of the joint bars and correct the deficiency."

To view the full text, click here.

FRA Issues Emergency Order to Prevent Unintended Hazardous Materials Train Movement

On 8/2/13, the FRA issued an Emergency Order and Safety Advisory to help prevent trains operating on mainline tracks or sidings from moving unintentionally. The FRA's announcement was made in response to the July 6, 2013 derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada, as it awaits additional data once the investigation into the crash is complete. The actions build on the success of FRA's rigorous safety program, which has helped reduce train accidents by 43% over the last decade, and made 2012 the safest year in American rail history.

To view the press release from the FRA which includes links to the Emergency Order and the Safety Advisory, visit: www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/details/L04722

FRA Safety Advisory - 2007-03- Railroad Bridge Safety- Spetember 4, 2007

The FRA RSAC Rail Failure Working Group (RFWG) recently developed a consensus document describing an enhanced Rail Failure Prevention Program. The document was approved by the full RSAC on April 15, 2014, and was issued to the industry by FRA Administrator Szabo on August 8, 2014. The intent of this document by the RFWG was to provide the industry with recommended guidance and best practices for proper rail maintenance in an effort to prevent rail failure.

To view the full text, click here.