A Norfolk Southern conductor died Tuesday after being hit by a dump truck at a plant in Ohio, prompting the National Transportation Safety Board to conduct an audit of the railroad’s safety culture due to the “number and significance” of recent accidents.
The conductor, identified as Louis Schuster, 46, was fatally shot at the Cleveland-Cliffs Cleveland Works early Tuesday morning, the railroad said in a statement. It was the third railroad accident in the state in just over a month.
Schuster was hit when a dump truck loaded with limestone collided with the left front of the first car of the train. A Cleveland police spokesman told CNN that he was near his car when the shot was fired.
Norfolk Southern is working with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, the Cleveland Police Department, and Cleveland-Cliffs representatives to learn more.
A month later, people living near a toxic train wreck are wondering if their lives will get back on track.
The NTSB later said in a statement that its safety culture investigation covered several accidents and three deaths since December 2021, including a toxic rail derailment in East Palestine and an employee killed earlier Tuesday. He’s already investigating the October 28 crash in Sandusky, Ohio.
“The NTSB is concerned that several organizational factors, including safety culture, may have been involved in the accident,” the board said in a statement. “The NTSB will conduct a thorough investigation into the company’s safety practices and culture. In the meantime, the company shouldn’t wait to improve security, and the NTSB is urging it to do so now.”
On Tuesday, the FRA also announced that it would conduct a 60-day security review of the Norfolk Southern Railroad “after multiple security incidents.”
“We are initiating a further additional security review of Norfolk Southern following a series of derailments and the death of one of its workers, and we are calling on Norfolk Southern to take urgent action to focus on safety so the company can start earning and maintain the trust of the public and its employees.” Transport Minister Pete Buttigieg said in a press release.
The agency said the safety review “will take a broader look at Norfolk Southern’s overall safety culture and operations.” According to the agency’s press release, it will include an assessment of the railroad’s employee protective equipment, maintenance, inspection and repair practices, and other elements of its operations.
“Norfolk Southern is in touch with the conductor’s family and will do everything possible to support them and his colleagues. Today we mourn the loss of a colleague. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this extremely difficult time,” the railway company said. .
In a separate statement, Northfolk Southern chief executive Alan Shaw said the railroad will hold a safety briefing with staff on Wednesday as part of a broader effort to “rebuild our safety culture from the ground up.”
“We’re going to invest more in security,” Shaw said. “This is not what we are now, this is unacceptable and will not continue.”
Shaw said the cause of the accident is not yet known and the company will cooperate fully with the NTSB.
“In a way, the reason is irrelevant,” Shaw said. “I have called together all members of our management team… to emphasize the urgency of finding new solutions.”
Shaw said he visited the train station in Cleveland after the crash and spoke with some of Shuster’s colleagues.
“They shared the story of a man who was respected and loved by his colleagues,” Shaw added. “This is a bad day that left a hole in the spirit of our company. We reached out to the Lu family to express our condolences. We will give them time to grieve and provide support in whatever they need.”
Schuster was a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive and Train Engineers (BLET) and worked as a conductor in south Norfolk, according to the union.
“Lou is a passionate and dedicated union member,” said Pat Redmond, local president of BLET Division 607. “He was always there for his colleagues. He was very active in helping the veterans who worked on the railroad and the veterans of society in general.”
A resident of Broadview Heights, Ohio, Schuster was formerly president of the Cleveland division of BLET 607. The union said Shuster has a 16-year-old son, cares for elderly parents, and is a veteran.
“This is a tragic situation and a huge loss for the Shuster family and union members,” said BLET National President Eddie Hall. “All train accidents can be avoided. This collision highlights the need for a significant improvement in rail safety for workers and the public.”
According to the Cleveland-Cliffs website, it is a flat steel company whose Cleveland Works is located on the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland.
CNN contacted the Cleveland-Cliffs, the Cleveland Police and the Ohio Governor’s office for more information.
The conductor’s death comes after Norfolk Southern was heavily criticized for two recent rail derailments in Ohio, including one in East Palestine last month, which resulted in the release and burning of a toxic chemical, causing nearby residents to complain about headaches. pain, cough and rash. they believe they are connected to a fiery catastrophe.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture will meet with East Palestine farmers Thursday to discuss concerns about the upcoming planting season, DeWine’s office said.
According to a press release from the governor’s office, the agency said it would hold a roundtable discussion, but there is currently no reason to believe that crops grown in the soil around eastern Palestine are unsafe to eat.
About half of the soil under the south track has turned to clay at the derailment site, but sampling will continue to determine if the clay is contaminated, according to the report.
Norfolk Southern is announcing new safety measures in the wake of the Eastern Palestine disaster as the NTSB investigates another train derailment in Ohio.
As the railroad is working with the Environmental Protection Agency to restore the site, it announced a new six-point safety plan on Monday aimed at preventing similar derailments in the future.
In Springfield, about 200 miles southwest of East Palestine, another Norfolk Southern freight train derailed on Saturday.
The accident caused a power outage in the area and forced homes within 1,000 feet of the scene to temporarily remain in place. Crews later determined that the derailed vehicle had not spilled anything and was not hazardous to the environment.
Injuries involving railroad workers are not uncommon, according to the Federal Railroad Administration, showing that there will be more than 3,250 accidents involving existing employees in the industry in 2022, including 185 involving Norfolk Southern employees.
The government said 11 railway workers died in the line of duty last year. One of them was an employee of Norfolk Southern.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct for the number of accidents that killed or injured Norfolk Southern employees and other rail workers last year. Previous versions used data from the wrong time range.
CNN’s Rob Frase, Ross Levitt, Vanessa Yurkevich, Chris Isidor, Greg Wallace, Pete Muntin, Greg Wallace, Selina Tebor, Isa Kaufman-Geballeand, and Kelly McCleery contributed to this report.
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Post time: Mar-08-2023