1. Purpose

a) The ESCO Group Rail Safety Program has been established to provide guidelines to safely work on or near rail tracks within and outside of customer facilities.

2. Scope

a) This program applies to all employees that may have to perform work within 8 feet of the centerline of railroad tracks or within 25 feet above railroad tracks that are within or outside customer facilities.  This program also applies to all employees that may need to cross railroad tracks (whether performing work or not) on foot or within an ESCO Group vehicle.

b) Work can take place on foot, within an aerial lift, golf cart, bucket truck, or any other ESCO Group vehicle.

3. Definitions

a) Blue flag: A blocked track warning method designed to alert railcar car-moving personnel that travel is prohibited beyond the flagged location.  This is a standard across all rail moving companies.

b) “Safe” Tracks: Railroad tracks that have been properly blocked/flagged/locked-out so that it is safe for workers and equipment to be within 8’ of the centerline, or within 25’ above the tracks.
Note: Our customers have different requirements for safe tracks, so be certain we follow all of their requirements.

c) Work: When railroad tracks are involved, stopping within 8’ of the centerline, or within 25’ above the tracks.  Crossing tracks is not considered work by this definition, but stopping within the above boundaries requires further action to safe the tracks.

4. Responsibilities

a) The ESCO Group Safety Director is the administrator of our Rail Safety Program and the Director of Safety Operations is the approver of the program.

b) Administrator’s responsibilities will include:

i. Ensuring that this program is implemented at facilities Esco Group works in that do not currently have rail safety programs and procedures or the policies and procedures in place at a customer facility are deemed inadequate to protect Esco Group employees.

ii. Provide training to any Esco Group employees that work on sites with rail activity.

iii. Ensure that this program is reviewed on an annual basis.

c) Esco Employee Responsibilities will include:

i. Adhering to all policies and procedures outlined in the program.

ii. Communicating with the customer and Esco Group supervision, the intention to work on/near railroad tracks so they are fully aware of where Esco Group employees will be.

iii. Being familiar with the customer’s site specific rail safety policies and procedures, if they exist.

5. General Requirements

a) No-one shall walk to cross, or drive any type of vehicle across tracks in front of a moving railcar, rail mover (such as a shuttle wagon), or locomotives.

b) If rail movement warning lights/sirens are on and no movement is occurring, verification of no rail movement (i.e. contacting the spotter or rail operator) must be made before crossing tracks. If no movement is taking place and no employees are available to verify movement is not about to begin, rail tracks may be crossed as long as at least 50 feet (the approximate length of a railcar) is between the pedestrian and the nearest railcar/rail mover. 

c) Vehicles or equipment shall not be left on or parked within 8’ of track centerlines without prior approval of customer/owner and use of a blocked track warning system.

d) No one shall cross between staged railcars that are less than a total of 10 feet apart, and are not allowed to climb over/under coupled cars.

e) Esco Group employees shall stop at any rail crossing to verify it is safe before proceeding across tracks.

6. Working on Tracks

a) When work must occur within 8’ of the centerline of the track, or within 25’ above the rail track, the following must happen:

i. Make the customer/owner aware of the need to work on the track and follow their rail procedure, if they have one.

ii. Verify with customer/owner that tracks are safe to be on and no rail movement is currently happening or about to commence. 

iii. Place Blue Flag on each side of work zone to warn rail operators that work is taking place on the tracks.

iv. If railcars are within view of work on/above tracks and wheel chocks (designed for rail) are available, place a chock against the wheel of the railcar to prevent unintended rail movement.
Note: There have been many cases where our customers have experienced unintended rail movement, even with railcar brakes set. Some customers may require derailers or track switches to be locked out to isolate the work area – this emphasizes the importance of becoming familiar with the site/customer rail procedures.

7. Training

a) Employees that may have to perform work within 8 feet of the centerline of, or within 25 feet above railroad tracks within, or outside customer facilities shall receive training on this policy as part of new hire safety orientation as well as annual refresher training.