INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, May 24 — Members of the BLET Safety Task Force (STF) met for in-depth training and orientation meetings from May 23-25 at BLET National Division headquarters in Independence, Ohio. Several new members were recently appointed to Investigator positions with the STF, and BLET Vice President Randy Fannon, who also serves as National Chairman of the STF, organized the training to bring them up to speed.
All BLET STF Investigators are BLET members and working, licensed locomotive engineers with the various Class I and passenger/commuter railroads throughout the United States. They received training from David Bucher, Railroad Division Chief with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and Chris Holt, Operating Practices Inspector with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The Investigators also heard presentations from National President Eddie Hall, National Secretary-Treasurer David Estes, Vice President Fannon, and STF National Coordinator Brian Fransen.
Those in attendance included: Don Hill, SEPTA General Chairman; Dewayne Dehart, NS-Northern Lines General Chairman; Scott Bunten, NS-Eastern Lines General Chairman; Mike Banks, BNSF-MRL; Ken Abell, BNSF-ATSF; G.W. Scott Brown, NS-S; Howie Allington, BNSF-MRL; Shawn Lawton, CSX-N/Conrail; Steve Facklam, BNSF-ATSF; Scott Alexander, UP-Southern Region; D.B. Kenner, BNSF-MRL; John Prokop, UP-Southern Region; David Wyatt, CSXT-E; and Jim Maynard, UP-WL. Vice President Fannon said that Brother Facklam and Brother Lawton would serve as STF Assistant Coordinators.
More than three decades ago, the BLET became the first labor union in the railroad industry to establish a formal accident investigation team when it created the Safety Task Force in 1989.
The STF assists the NTSB in the investigation of rail accidents, helping to determine probable cause, contributing factors and making safety recommendations to NTSB, regulators and the railroads. The STF is typically granted Party Status by the NTSB to assist with accident investigations, depending on the type and severity of the accident.
The STF participates in accident investigations providing subject matter expertise from the viewpoint of locomotive engineers and trainmen to help determine how the accident occurred and how to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future.