The National Transportation Safety Board said on Tuesday that it had opened a special investigation into safety practices at Norfolk Southern Railways because the company had suffered five significant accidents since December 2021, including a major derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, last month.
Norfolk Southern has been under scrutiny since that derailment of a train carrying hazardous materials on Feb. 3. Another of its freight trains derailed on Saturday near Springfield, Ohio. And hours before the board’s announcement, a Norfolk Southern employee was killed in an accident at an industrial facility in Cleveland.
Three of the five accidents that the N.T.S.B. listed resulted in the deaths of Norfolk Southern employees. On Dec. 8, 2021, in Reed, Pa., a worker was killed after being struck by a spike machine that was reversing direction. A year later, a trainee conductor was killed and another conductor was injured when “the lead locomotive of a Norfolk Southern freight train struck a steel angle iron protruding from a gondola car on another Norfolk Southern freight train” in Bessemer, Ala., the safety board said. The third fatal accident was the accident in Cleveland on Tuesday.
The investigation will focus on Norfolk Southern and its “safety culture.”
“Given the number and significance of recent Norfolk Southern accidents, the N.T.S.B. also urges the company to take immediate action today to review and assess its safety practices, with the input of employees and others, and implement necessary changes to improve safety,” the board said in a statement.