The following is reprinted from Speak Out Now’s workplace newsletter at Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
Everyone knows you have to be alert when you are working in the system at BART – whether it’s on the trains, in the stations, the shops or on the trackway.
From Management’s perspective, safety is a simple matter. They showed this during the 2013 strike when they didn’t follow basic safety protocols and sent two workers onto the trackway and had an untrained BART employee at the train controls on the same trackway.
Safety in the Stations and on the Trains
When it comes to safety, it usually means avoiding confrontations with people who are deeply troubled. Any confrontation with passengers, regardless of the situation, often leads to a worker being out of service until their case is decided. In the “normal world,” what might be considered a minor encounter can be called an assault by a Station Agent or Train Operator and seen as grounds for termination. And, when an investigation reveals the truth, it is often too late. Months without a paycheck can have horrible consequences.
Safety In the Yards – In the Dark?
Safety in the yards usually doesn’t involve non-BART workers, but it can. The problem is the dangers posed by equipment and infrastructure in the yards. Management’s contribution to safety is yellow vests. They can make it easier to spot someone.
In the Richmond yard, some places are really dark. That vest doesn’t light the area up. What use is it when walking across the yard or stepping down from a train? “Accidents” are waiting to happen all over.
There are lights that have been burned out for years. What are they waiting for?
If it’s Up to the Workers
If safety is up to the workers, then the people working should be the ones to set the safety protocols – from staffing, to lighting, to proper equipment and more.