MBTA workers experienced three safety incidents in the past two weeks, the latest speedbumps as higher-ups work to address deep-rooted problems and overhaul the transit agency’s culture.

Officials disclosed the trio of events at a board meeting on Wednesday, where they also acknowledged the agency is falling short of some of its annual targets for safety incidents.

On Nov. 29, a track laborer working on the then-closed Green Line near Boylston Station injured his leg when a part of the tool he was using “became dislodged,” MBTA Deputy Chief Safety Officer Nancy Prominski told board members.

The T’s maintenance of way department ordered new tools and “protective caps,” and also provided additional instruction about how to inspect tools, Prominski said. The worker has since returned to the job.

Early in the morning of Nov. 30, while crews were replacing Orange Line rail between Sullivan Station and Community College, workers activated power for the stretch of track shortly after a “high-rail welding truck” exited the area.

Prominski said Federal Transit Administration guidelines required the incident to be reported as a “near miss,” and she said no one was injured.

And on Tuesday — one day before the board meeting — workers at the temporarily inactive Riverside Station on the Green Line noticed that overhead catenary wires were still live, according to Prominski.

“This event was formally reported as a near miss due to the type of construction equipment on site. At no point was the equipment raised … or in the immediate vicinity of the overhead catenary, nor was it intended that the equipment would be in that area,” Prominski said. “However, [it’s] still considered, due to the definition, a near miss.”

Prominski said the T immediately halted work at Riverside, reported the live wires and cleared equipment “without incident, without injury.” MBTA safety officials and the Department of Public Utilities, which oversees T safety, investigated and work resumed in the afternoon once power was confirmed to be off.

Federal regulators have pointedly called out the MBTA on multiple occasions for “near miss” incidents in which employees were nearly struck by trains, warning in September that “a combination of unsafe conditions and practices exist such that there is a substantial risk of serious injury or death of a worker.” MBTA officials were ordered to implement new protocols this fall to protect workers.

MBTA Chief Safety Officer Tim Lesniak acknowledged the Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 incidents at a subcommittee meeting last week, prompting board member Robert Butler to remark, “That’s insane that that could happen again,” according to the Boston Globe.

Prominski said Wednesday that the number of formally counted safety incidents exceeded the MBTA’s benchmarks on some major modes so far in 2023. The T has had 104 bus safety incidents, well above the roughly 81 anticipated by this point in the year. On light rail, the 31 safety incidents year to date surpass the projection of 22.5, and on heavy rail, the 22 safety incidents outpace the 20 expected by now.

One apparent transit safety improvement this year has taken place outside the T itself.

The DPU, which in 2022 drew harsh criticism from the FTA for falling short of its responsibility to oversee MBTA safety, has roughly doubled the workforce in its rail transit safety division over the past year with Gov. Maura Healey in office, according to division director Robert Hanson.

“Gone are the days of the headlines where the regulatory inefficiencies lead the news,” Hanson told the MBTA’s board on Wednesday.

As of November, the DPU had closed 51 investigations into MBTA incidents in 2023 and 62 were still open. More than half of final reports were past their due dates, according to Hanson, who described a “significant backlog.”

“We’ve certainly increased the amount of final reports that come in to us recently, and [are] trying to clean up that backlog, but we’ve also increased the oversight and accountability for those final reports that come in, which is why I think we see a higher number of final reports past due and a higher number of rejected final reports,” Hanson said. “At the end of the day, the final reports that come in to us need to be to our level of accuracy.”

The agency can also order corrective action plans the T must undertake to address problems. Twenty-two such plans are still open, 23 were closed in 2023 and about a third of open actions are past their due date. Hanson said that rate of overdue corrective actions is “a significant improvement from where things were in previous years.”

Some lawmakers have pushed to reassign MBTA safety oversight away from the DPU and to a proposed new, independent entity, but legislative leaders have not yet embraced any shift away from the status quo.

Hanson’s presentation drew praise from MBTA officials and board members. General Manager Phil Eng said his team works “collaboratively” with DPU.

“We have a common goal: safety of our workforce, safety of the public,” Eng said. “We are little by little and step by step tackling all of the things that we’ve inherited.”

Butler praised Hanson for the significant staff expansion at his unit.

“Thank God we got a new governor. That’s all I’ve got to say,” said Butler, who was appointed to the board by former Gov. Charlie Baker in October 2021.

(Copyright (c) 2024 State House News Service.

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