DG Digest: FRA updates guidance on grade crossings and OSHA renews its ICR on anhydrous ammonia

The FRA issued new guidance for so-called quiet zones—crossings where automated horns take the place of the traditional (and much louder) horns blown by locomotives at road crossings. A Union Pacific freight train rolls across just such a crossing in Tacoma, Washington on April 30th, 2017. Photo © 4/2017 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

It’s May Day—a date observed worldwide as a Labor Holiday.  Hopefully, you can mark the day by working towards even greater safety, productivity, and involvement for your own work force, wherever it may be.  It was a quiet week on the regulatory front, but here’s the news of note:


The agency issued revamped guidance for the thresholds of risk to be taken into account at grade crossings equipped with remote horn devices.  Such devices allow trains to avoid blowing their own (and far louder) horns at each crossing and are popular in high population zones since it reduces noise.  However it also can increase the risk of collisions between trains and other vehicles or pedestrians.  As such communities have to take such guidance into account when approaching railroads about converting crossings over to the so-called “quiet zone” model.   This is especially the case for routes carrying hazardous materials and or passenger traffic.  See the new guidance here


  • The agency renewed its ICR in reference to the storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia.  This particularly volatile material, also an inhalation hazard, is of high interest to OSHA since it is common in many rural areas as a source of fertilizer.  See the ICR here
  • The agency is also issuing an ICR via the Labor Department proper, this one dealing with pressure sensing devices, or PSD’s.  PSD’s are used as part of machine safety systems, helping turn the machine off if a human presence is sensed.  It’s an important component of some machine guarding programs.  Machine guard violations are one of the most common OSHA citations issued, consistently falling in the top five year after year.   Here’s your link for more information


The Office of the Secretary of Transportation is updating the regulations that govern the organization of DOT to clarify the responsibilities of certain OST officials and their relationships with senior leaders throughout DOT. These updates will ensure that heads of DOT operating administrations have the benefit of input from OST officials in carrying out their management responsibilities. See the new organizational news here

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