Ting Probes BART on Worker Safety at SF Hearing

For immediate release:

San Francisco, CA – At the request of Assemblymember Philip Y. Ting (D-San Francisco), the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment held an investigative hearing today to address what Ting called “a disturbing pattern” of workplace safety issues at Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).

“We need to work together and find solutions that protect the safety of workers and riders,” said Ting.  “That will keep trains running in the future.”

The hearing evaluated a decades-old BART procedure called "simple approval" and the safety risks that it places onto BART workers.  It allows workers to enter restricted areas along tracks without any protection from trains or any advance warning of approaching trains.  BART recently suspended this procedure after two workers were fatally struck by a train while performing a routine track

inspection last month.  The hearing also looked at how a number of documented workplace safety issues could persist at BART for so long.

At the hearing, when asked by Ting, BART managers were unable to say how many safety violations they have pending with state regulators.  So, Ting asked them to provide him with a list of every safety citation and BART’s plans to address them.

Ting requested the hearing in June of this year but it was postponed to not interfere with protracted and contentious contract negotiations between BART and its workforce.  In his June 28 letter to Assemblymember Roger Hernández (D-West Covina), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment, Ting referenced 46 workplace safety citations weighed against BART in recent years by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CalOSHA) and noted that BART has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting these citations instead of resolving them.

“California has laws to ensure that workers are safe on the job,” added Ting.  “We see a disturbing pattern at BART once safety problems are identified by regulators.  Rather than solve them, BART challenges or ignores them.”

The hearing included three discussion panels featuring the testimony of representatives from regulatory agencies, BART employee unions, and BART management.

Photo attached.

Contact: Anthony Matthews, tel. (916) 319-2019, anthony.matthews@asm.ca.gov