To help eliminate the risk of falsified records, New York City Transit is installing on its equipment barcodes that maintenance supervisors can scan to help properly record inspections. The MTA’s Inspector General recently reported that superintendents of NYCT’s Division of Signals instructed maintenance supervisors to enter false information into the signal inspection and testing computer system. Those inspections were recorded on a computer in an office removed from the actual equipment. “Now, in order to be able to record that an inspection was done you need to be at the site of the piece of equipment and you have to scan a barcode that is physically attached to the piece of equipment as you inspect it. So it’s a much better system,” said Al O’Leary, NYCT’s vice president of public affairs. Though the Inspector General could not substantiate the allegation, it was found that superintendents instructed supervisors to conduct only visual inspections instead of signal tests and many supervisors never conducted a large number of scheduled tests and inspections of subway track equipment in 1999, said Inspector General Roland M. Malan. The tests in question were secondary tests and not imperative to the safe maintenance of the subway system, O’Leary said. Maintenance supervisors are meant to inspect the primary inspections conducted by maintainers as an extra safety measure to ensure that equipment was inspected thoroughly and correctly. “At no time was any customer of ours put at risk because of the inspections,” O’Leary said. NYCT began installing the barcodes prior to the Inspector General’s investigation. All subway equipment will be tagged within a couple of months.
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