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Safety

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Use and Maintenance of Hot Bearing Wayside Detectors

https://railroads.dot.gov/elibrary/safety-advisory-2023-01-evaluation-policies-and-procedures-related-use-and-maintenance-0


Accordingly, FRA recommends that railroads take the following actions:

1. Review existing HBD system inspection and maintenance policies and

procedures for compliance with existing industry standards and manufacturer

recommendations for HBDs.

2. Review existing procedures to train and qualify personnel responsible for

installing, inspecting, and maintaining HBDs to ensure they have the appropriate

knowledge and skills. Railroads should also develop and implement appropriate training

on the inspection and maintenance requirements for HBDs and provide that training at

appropriate intervals to ensure the required knowledge and skill of inspection and

maintenance personnel. Further, railroads should evaluate their training content and

training frequency to ensure any employee who may be called upon to evaluate a suspect

bearing has the necessary training, experience, and qualifications. FRA also encourages

railroads to ensure these individuals are available at all hours of operations across a

railroad’s network.

3. Review current HBD detector thresholds in light of recent derailments,

and all other relevant available data (including data from any close calls or near misses),

to determine the adequacy of the railroad’s current thresholds. Thresholds should be

established for single measurement as well as multiple measurements of individual

bearings to enable temperature trend analysis.

4. Review current procedures governing actions responding to HBD alerts to

ensure required actions are commensurate with the risk of the operation involved. With

regard to trains transporting any quantity of hazardous materials, FRA recommends

railroads adopt the procedures outlined in AAR’s OT-55 for key trains as an initial

measure.

5. Rigorously evaluate the resiliency and accuracy of the overall process

used to monitor and act upon information from wayside detectors, with specific focus on

steps and tasks that, if not performed or performed incorrectly, could mislead decision

makers. The process of monitoring, reporting, inspecting, analyzing, and acting on

information from detectors includes tasks that, if incorrectly executed, could introduce

risk. Railroads should also evaluate each step and task performed by railroad personnel

to pinpoint any HBD reporting failures and implement appropriate safeguards to

minimize the impact of those failures when monitoring, analyzing, and responding to

detector information.

Conclusion

In general, as noted in Safety Advisory 2023-01 as originally published, the

issues identified in this Safety Advisory and this supplementary notice are indicators of

a railroad’s safety culture. Implementing procedures that ensure safety, and training

personnel so those procedures become second nature, is vital. Equally important is the

commitment, throughout the organization, to safety and empowerment of personnel to

live up to that commitment. Specifically, personnel should be encouraged and

empowered to develop, implement, and comply with procedures that may temporarily

impact operations, but maximize safety, just as those executing the procedures should be empowered to strictly adhere to those procedures, even if it delays a train. The

railroads should evaluate their safety culture not only as it relates to the issues indicated

in this Safety Advisory, but to all aspects of their operations.


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