The Switching Operations Fatality Analysis (SOFA) Working Group in June issued its latest updates on switching fatalities and severe injuries for the entirety of 2017 and for the first quarter of 2018.
According to SOFA, there were three switching-related fatalities and nine amputations as a result of switching accidents in 2017. There were 68 “severe injuries,” which SOFA defines as potentially life-threatening; having a high likelihood of permanent loss of function, permanent occupational limitation or other permanent disability; likely to result in significant work restrictions and resulting from a high-energy impact to the human body.
The number of severe injuries and amputations in 2017 exceeded 2016’s totals of 47 and seven, respectively.
SOFA reported that train accident reports increased to 1,686 in 2017 over the 1,671 in 2016. However, SOFA said that human factor accidents decreased to 639 in 2017 from the 643 reported in 2016.
In the first quarter of 2018, SOFA said there were two amputations, 20 severe injuries and no switching fatalities. SOFA reported that there have been 416 train accidents and 154 human factor accidents thus far in 2018.
SOFA is a voluntary, nonregulatory railroad safety partnership consisting of representatives of SMART Transportation Division, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) that has a goal of zero switching fatalities achieved through education and nonpunitive interactions.
Click here to go to our SOFA page and read SOFA’s full reports.

UTU conductor double-amputee in NS mishap

Norfolk Southern conductor and UTU Local 768 member Larry McVay, age 43, lost an arm and a leg in a switching accident near Lafayette, Ind., the morning of Jan. 3, and is recovering in an Indianapolis hospital.


A UTU member since Dec. 1, 2007, McVay is a resident of Dalton City, Ill. He and his wife, Lisa, lost a daughter in an automobile accident in 2008.

A Larry McVay benefit fund has been established at Land of Lincoln Credit Union, 2890 N. Oakland Ave., Decatur, IL. 62526. More information may be obtained from the credit union by calling (217) 875-1300.

Members who have PayPal accounts may also make a contribution through the PayPal website by sending funds to the e-mail address