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The state Legislature will investigate BART worker safety next month during a special oversight hearing announced Tuesday, following the deaths of two track engineers more than a week ago.

Roger Hernández, D-West Covina and chair of the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment, said he will convene the hearing Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Auditorium of the State Building in San Francisco.

"This recent incident raises significant concerns about workplace safety issues involving BART," Hernández said in a statement. "I am troubled by allegations that a flawed BART procedure also contributed to a previous worker fatality and was not remedied in order to prevent this most recent tragedy. The safety of workers and the public cannot be compromised, and I plan to get to the bottom of this."

BART employees along with the  National Transportation Safety Board investigate the scene on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, where a four-car northbound Bay Point
BART employees along with the National Transportation Safety Board investigate the scene on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, where a four-car northbound Bay Point train was involved in the deaths of two workers Saturday in Walnut Creek, Calif. The NTSB has taken over the investigation. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group)

Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, requested the Nov. 7 oversight hearing on June 28, before the two men were killed.

"In most situations when you receive an audit, you go and fix X, Y and Z," Ting said. "My concern is rather than address those issues they are really trying to avoid them."

The BART employee and contractor were hit by a BART train Oct. 19 on the second day of a strike on a stretch of track between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill stations. The two men gained access to the track through a procedure called "simple approval," which placed nearly all the safety responsibility on the two ground workers.


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Another BART worker was killed in 2008 while inspecting a track, also under that "simple approval" safety practice. BART was cited by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health for using the controversial practice, but the transit agency has fought to keep it.

But last week, management announced it would end simple approvals.

"We're gathering the information they have recently requested, and BART will be present at the hearing to answer their questions," BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said Tuesday.

In his June 28 letter, Ting wrote, "It has recently come to my attention that BART is facing significant safety problems, and the working conditions for certain BART workers are dangerous and not improving."

This week, Ting said, "At the Labor Committee hearing, we will demand accountability from BART leadership for these safety breaches, and examine what, if anything, they are doing to prevent future risk to workers and the public."

BART has received 46 Cal-OSHA citations in recent years, Ting wrote.

The hearing will happen even though the National Transportation Safety Board investigation is expected to last months longer, Hernández said.

Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.