Investigators: Poor employee training caused train derailment

Poor employee training led to a toxic spill that sickened nearly 30 people, investigators say.

Federal investigators say a 2012 train derailment was the result of poor employee training.

Federal investigators recently released a report saying that poor employee training led to a disastrous train derailment that sickened at least 28 people and forced nearly 700 to evacuate their homes, Reuters news service reports.

The accident happened in January of 2012, when a Conrail freight train fell into a creek near Paulsboro, New Jersey, and spilled 20,000 gallons of the highly toxic and flammable chemical vinyl chloride. According to the report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the conductor incorrectly assumed that a pivoting bridge was locked in place and that he was free to proceed. In fact, the bridge had malfunctioned after swinging open to let boats pass and did not close correctly. As the train moved onto the bridge, four cars fell into the water below.

The NTSB says that Conrail engineers were not given the necessary formal training to check whether a bridge was locked in place and instead were expected to learn on-the-job. The engineer in charge on the day of the derailment had never before performed such an inspection. Investigators report that the same bridge had experienced lock failures nearly two dozen times in the previous year and 11 times in the previous month.

Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate and nearly 30 were taken to the hospital with symptoms associated with exposure to the industrial chemical. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), vinyl chloride can cause dizziness, drowsiness and headaches in the short-term. Long-term exposure can cause severe liver damage and cancer.

This accident is a reminder of the importance of comprehensive, structured employee training. As a manager or executive, it may be tempting to rely on unofficial, on-the-job training for new workers. However, investing time and resources in formal programs will ultimately save you time and money in the long run, while also keeping your workers safe.

Source of original news story found here.

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