Agreement entered with Labor Department, Norfolk Southern on enhanced rail safety in East Palestine
Norfolk Southern has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division - International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
This agreement comes after several U.S. Department of Labor workplace health & safety investigations at the site of the East Palestine train derailment disaster.
Under the agreement, Norfolk Southern has agreed to do the following:
- Implement a medical surveillance program for all affected employees who worked at the derailment site
- Provide union employees with 40 hours of Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Training for future derailments
- Create a training program on lessons learned from the derailment
- Pay penalties assessed by OSHA for four safety and health violations
"This agreement will improve the safety and health controls in place for Norfolk Southern employees who responded and help the rail operator's employees on the lessons learned so they are prepared should another emergency occur," said OSHA Area Office Director, Howard Eberts.
OSHA will continue to work closely with both the U.S. and Ohio EPAs, as well as other federal, state and local officials to protect workers' health and safety as cleanup continues.
OSHA opened enforcement investigations back in March to assess the rail union's concerns for the health of workers rebuilding tracks and conducting cleanup operations near the derailment site.
These investigations included personal and area air samplings for workers involved in site and water cleanup including Norfolk Southern employees installing new tracks at the site.
The agency has also opened enforcement inspections of environmental consulting firm, CTEH, as well as two other companies on site for the cleanup including Pennsylvania-based Specialized Professional Services and North Carolina-based Hepaco Inc. to investigate complaints about workers exposed to chemicals while cleaning up nearby creeks.
OSHA issued a citation to Specialized Professional Services for inadequate control of the cite and decontamination areas. No citations were issued to CTEH or Hetco.
The agency also opened an inspection in response to reports that CDC employees became ill after visiting area homes back in March, but issued no citations.
Additionally, Norfolk Southern were issued citations on August 2 for four violations and proposed $49,111 in penalties. The violations stemmed from work conducted on February 4 when crews constructed track panels and laid them out on the south tracks, west of the spill location.
The four citations are as follows:
- Not developing an emergency response plan that included clear lines of authority, communication and training, site security, adequate site control and decontamination areas
- Failing to require workers to wear chemical-resistant footwear while walking on contaminated soil
- Allowing employees without respiratory protection to pour cement on potentially contaminated soil
- Not training workers about hazardous chemicals