BMWE Lodge 3014

Pennsylvania Federation

Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Division
of the
International Brotherhood of Teamsters


Amtrak worker gets struck by a yard train in
Sunnyside Yard Queens, NY

It's not often that we post messages from Amtrak management but this message rings true and is a message that all Amtrak works might want to read and take in. Below is the email sent out to workers in the NYD by the Division Engineer Butch Bernanski.




Please take the time at your next briefing to share this video with your folks. This is a strong reminder of how a moments lapse in attention can have catastrophic consequences. In this case the SSYD Mechanical Department employee involved was lucky to have only suffered bumps and bruises. Just one more step to his right and the story may have ended on a  more tragic note. He was lucky.

Luck is something we seem to have used a lot of lately. We have had an alarming number of Rule Violations, close calls and serious injuries so far this year. After each we could reflect on what happened and say “Wow, we were lucky that wasn’t worse.”  But luck is a finite resource. Eventually it runs out.

Historically we are now in the most dangerous months of the year for Railroaders. The Holidays can be a distraction. Cold weather gear restricts movement, vision and hearing to some extent. The weather itself will be getting bad. Although we must always remember how dangerous a place the railroad is I implore you to amp it up. There is no room for complacency at work. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a high speed track, a 5mph yard track, as was the case in the video, or off the ROW entirely. Stay alert. The Rules protect you. Use them.

As a leader or a co-worker don’t accept or ignore bad work habits or dangerous shortcuts by your fellow employees. Taking the easy route will probably work for you/them 99 out of 100 times. But eventually it will prove disastrous. Having been doing this myself now for 39 years the only universal truth on the railroad can be found in “Murphy’s Law”.  (“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”)

Over the last few years we have been flooded with new and inexperienced employees. They can’t possibly understand yet how dangerous a place the railroad environment is. Those of us who have been here a while need to teach them. Need to show them our good habits….NEVER the bad!

What we do for a living is not a joke. It is not a profession that anyone can do. It requires a high degree of training, intelligence, expertise, common sense, FOCUS and commitment. If you know your job, practice it with professionalism, watch out for your brothers and sisters, raise up the new employees and keep them safe, maintain a safe infrastructure and serve our customers than you are a special breed and you need to carry yourself with pride. A non-railroader can never understand what it takes. What is sacrificed. Those with normal jobs are ignorant to the dangers and complexities we may unfortunately take for granted at times.

Take nothing for granted. If you do you are not only placing yourself in danger you are also endangering your co-workers, friends and customers. Yes….this is the most dangerous time of the year statistically and we need to be cognizant of that fact every minute of our shift. But, all of the dangers I’ve mentioned and that all of you are well aware of are omni-present. Never lose focus ever.

I wish all of you a happy, safe and healthy holiday season. I also wish for you a happy, safe and healthy career. Being safe isn’t seasonal.


  SSY East End Crossing Train Strike

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