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NTSB hearing is a primer on safety

Post Poll: Do you think the NTSB hearings will lead to Metro improvements? Vote here.

Noon Update: The NTSB concluded the three-day hearing into the crash right at noon Thursday. The safety board has not issued a formal finding on the cause of the crash but officials anticipate doing that by the one-year anniversary of the accident on June 22.

In his closing remarks, hearing chairman Robert L. Sumwalt thanked the 21 witnesses who delivered testimony over the past three days and quoted from a saying he said they have at the NTSB: "From tragedy we draw knowledge to improve the safety of us all."

We were "here to learn from this tragedy, so that it does not happen again," he said, before adjourning.

Keep checking back on Get There and washingtonpost.com/localfor the latest news and analysis on the investigation.

Day Three of the NTSB hearing into the Red Line crash began at 8 a.m. Thursday. The focus today is on testimony from "high reliablility organizations,'' which one of the witnesses partially described as organizations or groups of organizations that conduct "relatively error-free operations."

The plan seems to be to present examples of organizations that have had success implementing HRO programs, such as commercial aviation and some programs with the U.S. Department of Energy. One of the witnesses scheduled includes an engineer with a company that helps manage the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile.

Dr. Karlene Roberts, director of the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at the University of California, Berkeley, set the stage for much of Thursday's testimoney, describing HRO's and giving a brief preview. The center's mission, according to its Web site, is "through multidisciplinary research, teaching and outreach, to help societies cope better with catastrophic hazards including hurricane, tornado, flood, tsunami, earthquake, volcano, landslide, wildfire, pandemic, industrial accident, chemical spill, blackout and terrorism attack." The Web site says the center was created in September 2005 after Hurricane Katrina.

Roberts spoke of "latent errors" that can precipitate an organization's downward slide. She said a "lack of resources" and "deferred maintenance" may be latent errors affecting Metro. "That tends to bubble up and bite you," she said.

Live Web cast | Transcript of interview with operator of stopped train

Signal investigation report | Passenger statements on Red Line crash

Transcripts of 911 calls | Post investigation of Metro safety

Transcripts of Metro maintenance crew interviews:

Safety and budget woes threaten to consume Metro

Emotions flow at NTSB hearing
[Post journalist Anna Uhls interviews victims' family members]

Report from Day One: Previous signs pointed to Metro problem

Report from Day Two: Parts maker says it warned Metro about mixing different brands of equipment

By Michael Bolden  |  February 25, 2010; 8:08 AM ET
Categories:  Safety  | Tags: metro, metro safety  
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