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WMATA Safety Accomplishments

Metro is working continuously to improve the safety of our system for riders and employees.  In the years since 2009, a renewed focus on safety has resulted in changes throughout Metro.

The following are highlights of our key improvements, from implementing federal safety oversight recommendations and investing in rail infrastructure to reductions in our employee injury rates and improved workplace practices like anonymous safety hazard reporting.

NTSB Recommendations - Fort Totten Accident

  • 25 of 29 NTSB safety recommendations have been closed. The open recommendations involve long-term projects - such as replacement of Metro's entire 1000-series fleet with new 7000-series railcars.
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  • The first 7000-series railcars are currently undergoing final testing on our system - marking the final phase of the project before full-scale production begins. The new cars enter passenger service April 14, 2015.

FTA Audit

  • WMATA closed all of the recommendations from 2010 FTA State Safety Oversight Audit, and is underway with all six FTA recommendations made in 2012.
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  • FTA's follow up safety audit in fall of 2012 concluded that, "WMATA has made considerable progress in strengthening its safety organization, safety analysis capabilities, and information sharing and communications' processes regarding safety issues."

Safety Culture

  • Established a Safety and Security Committee on the Board of Directors as of September 30, 2010. Updated the Board's Safety Policy Statement to define roles, strengthen internal safety committees on all levels, bolster oversight and improve reporting relationships.
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  • Hired a Chief Safety Officer who reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer/General Manager.
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  • Increased the number of full-time safety employees to 61 and ensured they reflected an even greater depth and breadth of experience.  The number of employees is now nearly double the number of safety employees WMATA had in 2010 and more than seven times what WMATA had in 1997, when WMATA had only eight safety officials.  WMATA's safety team is now the second largest safety department in the industry.    
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  • In May 2013, WMATA's second Employee Engagement Survey showed that:    
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  • Developed the Vital Signs Report, a publicly available quarterly report that monitors safety metrics and provides the latest information on customer and passenger injury rates, as well as crime rates, on-time performance and other key indicators of WMATA's successes.
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  • Revised completely the System Safety Program Plan, a document required by both FTA Title 49 CFR Part 659 and the Tristate Oversight Committee's (TOC) Program Standards and Procedures.  The Plan now focuses on hazard identification and management, regulatory compliance and other matters and governs how WMATA implements its overall system safety programs.  The document is approved by the WMATA Board and TOC and is communicated across all WMATA departments with the goal of ensuring that WMATA is fully compliant with all FTA and OSHA federal requirements.
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  • In June 2014, Metro received the Gold Safety Award from APTA for our Roadway Worker Protection Program - the backbone of our safety training efforts.  WMATA's program is now recognized as a model for the industry.  The Gold Safety Award is an acknowledgment of the training provided to track workers, train operators, nearly everyone who works in rail operations and construction area.
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  • In 2013, GM/CEO Richard Sarles received recognition from the National Safety Council as one of its 2013 CEOs Who "Get It". It was a reflection of the hard work and dedication of every Metro employee, from executive leadership to superintendents in the field, as well as the train and bus operators and mechanics who have rededicated themselves to safety.
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  • In 2013, Metro received the Certificate of Merit for Safety from APTA for dramatically improved safety overall and building new safety culture.
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  • Internally, Metro recognizes employees who maintain safe work practices at the annual Champions of Safety awards program.  In 2014, WMATA recognized 149 people, plus 13 divisions/facilities, for their stellar safety records free of any Metro safety violations or preventable accidents.
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  • In 2013, WMATA closed more than 100 Corrective Action Plans (CAPs).  Of the remaining open CAPs, two are rated "unacceptable" based on Metro's hazard management rating and stem from the Fort Totten accident. Both of the "unacceptable" ones are long term items related to safety analysis of automatic train control and the design changes once analysis is complete.

Safety Management System

  • Established a safety measurement system (SMS) database that functions as an umbrella system that pulls together and consolidates information from various data systems within WMATA, including:  central control, maintenance and human resources.  The system is a single data entry input for personnel to enter new events and permits authorized users to track, update and close out actions through workflow processes.  This one-stop, single source database allows the Safety Department to have a central repository of all incidents and accidents with all documentation and actions - including any analysis, reviews and reports - taken to resolve issues.  The centralized system will lead to greater overall efficiency in managing and resolving safety matters across all modes.
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  • Instituted incident and accident investigation policy and procedures that establish notification, response, investigation, documentation and follow-up protocols in order to avoid the recurrence of unsafe practices.  The new policy defines staff roles depending on the severity of the accident/incident and recognizes the Safety Department as the lead department in investigating major accidents.

Employee & Customer Injury Rates

  • Reduced employee injuries by 28% when compared to calendar year 2010. The CY2014 rate is 4.20 injuries per 200,000 hours worked. Fourth consecutive year of reduced injuries for employees.
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  • Reduced customer injuries by 6% when compared to calendar year 2010. The customer injury rate is 1.96 injuries per 1,000,000 passenger trips.
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  • The overall trend over the last five years has been declining for both customer and employee injuries.
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  • To address employee injuries, we launched an innovative multi-phase campaign that stresses proper safety practices by appealing to employees' sense of personal responsibility, community, family and leadership.

Close Call Reporting Program

  • Metro became the first rail transit agency to launch a confidential Close Call Transit Safety Reporting System in July 2013. The system is designed to enhance the safety culture by increasing opportunities for employees to report events that have potential for more serious consequences.
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  • WMATA's system is similar to one instituted at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and resulted from a partnership between Metro, ATU Local 689 and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).
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  • Confidential employee reports are made directly to BTS and recommended preventive safety actions are then forwarded to Metro.
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  • In the first year, the nature of employee concerns has included: safety in and around shop areas, including procedures for trains entering shops; improving communication with roadway workers, especially during switch movements; and procedures for passing red signals.
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  • Ten preventive safety actions have been approved, with five already implemented and the remaining five to be completed by July 2014.

Fatigue Risk Management Program

  • Metro is working on a Fatigue Risk Management System designed to set new standards for the industry. Our goal is to address one of the highest profile safety issues in transportation. The program will focus on safety-critical occupations within bus, rail and Metro Access.
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  • WMATA has set a framework for the number of hours employees can work which, unlike trucks drivers and locomotive engineers, are not regulated for bus and subway operators.
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  • In addition, we implemented the following :    

Investments in Critical Rail Infrastructure

  • Continuing with a $5 billion, 6-year capital improvement program, with the first $1 billion dedicated to improving the safety of rail infrastructure, passenger facilities and rail vehicles, including our next-generation 7000-series rail cars, featuring a new crashworthy design.
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  • Completed installation of rollback protection on all 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, and 5000-series cars.
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  • Started installation of exterior emergency door releases on the 1000-series railcars and testing of the approved design solution on 4000 and 5000-series railcars. About half the fleet has been completed.
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  • Launched a comprehensive analysis and monitoring system of Automatic Train Control (ATC), including testing specifications that model FRA requirements and starting ATC "Summit" meetings.
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  • Completed the base contract for the Red Line Train Control Generation II Module replacement.
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  • Took delivery of a Track Geometry Vehicle, a specialized railcar equipped with advanced technology that analyzes rail conditions and alerts WMATA to potential defects.

Yellow Line Incident, L'Enfant Plaza

  • Full and complete cooperation with NTSB Investigation; including transmittal of over 680 documents which is over 7,800 pages.
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  • Completed nine of the ten early action items based on Metro's collaborative review with the NTSB. The ten action items are:    
             
    • Write SOP for train operator to cut EV immediately upon stopping for smoke incident. (Completed - 1/22/2015)
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    • Write SOP for incident management in ROCC to provide specifics for site discipline in the ROCC to avoid cross-talk and unnecessary interactions. (Completed - 1/26/2015)
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    • Set schedule for next three years for emergency quarterly drills to be conducted wayside. Sequence station, then a tunnel section, then an elevated section (note tunnel and elevated sections shall be between stations). Please sequence each quarter in a separate jurisdiction. Coordinate type of drill and logistics with Metropolitan Transit Police Department (Completed - 1/26/2015)
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    • Design and implement exterior signage for exterior doors to clearly delineate access in event of emergency. (Completed - 2/13/2015)
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    • Provide engineering and operations report on all third rail jumper cables in tunnel sections for condition and installation. (Completed - 2/27/2015)
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    • Recommendation on installation of low smoke/low halogen on high voltage third rail jumper cables. (Completed - 2/13/2015)
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    • Install mechanical protection on third rail jumper cables that may be exposed to wear from vibration against other materials. (Begin work immediately)
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    • Review of ground fault detectors on third-rail circuit breakers. (Completed - 2/27/2015)
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    • Operational analysis of running trains at 45 MPH in the core with limited acceleration. (Completed - 3/31/2015)
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    • Provide report on installing zoned smoke detectors using ETS boxes for location and transmitting of information, also investigate use of wireless smoke detectors. (Completed - 2/27/2015)
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