After track workers were almost struck by approaching trains five times in March and April, the Federal Transit Administration required the MBTA to address how it plans to improve employee safety.

Those near misses made it clear to the federal oversight agency there was a major communication failure between train dispatchers, operators and crews working on the MBTA’s rights of way. Correcting that deficiency is the central piece of the MBTA’s new safety plan, submitted Monday to the FTA. The federal agency still must approve the plan.

The revised plan prioritizes improving communication procedures so that train dispatchers and train operators know exactly where and when crews will be working on repairs to the transit system’s tracks.

A pilot program being tested on the Blue Line employs electronic maps to allow dispatchers to track the presence of workers on rights of way in real time. If it proves to be a success, it will be implemented throughout the system

Another pilot is being tested on the Green Line, where most of the near misses occurred, employs flaggers who alert train operators to the presence of workers on tracks ahead.

The plan also addresses problems with radio communications. It seeks to “ensure unambiguous and explicit communication” between flaggers and dispatchers by reviewing and revising the information that should be exchanged during those interactions. And potentially thousands of radios will have to reconfigured with specific channels established to improve communications between workers and supervisors.

The proposal submitted Monday was the MBTA's second version of this safety plan. The FTA judged the initial submission in May to be insufficient, as it would take months to enact new protocols and procedures. The FTA cited an imminent danger to workers and required a new plan that would have the MBTA implement corrective actions within 60 days.

In a cover letter to the FTA, General Manager Philip Eng said many of the actions in the new plan are already underway, but some will require longer than a 60-day window. After meeting with FTA representatives last week, Eng said both sides agreed that too many changes made too quickly could increase the risk to workers and be counterproductive.

Eng has said the FTA’s order to direct the T to resubmit a safety plan was “no big deal’ and normally how the agency interacts with the transit systems it oversees. Eng sees the relationship with the FTA as more cooperative than adversarial, and he welcomes the FTA’s involvement. He says the ultimate goal is enhancing safety which is good not only for T workers, but also the traveling public.