Posts Tagged ‘ban’

Safety Task Force alert: Electronic device ban

The Federal Railroad Administration’s permanent ban on use of electronic devices, including cellphones, became effective March 28.

Please make careful note of the following:

  • In the event of a collision, derailment or fatality, one of the first actions taken by National Transportation Safety Board investigators is pull the phone records of all crew members involved.
  • NTSB investigators ALSO pull the phone records of crew members on other trains in the area of the event, including the last train at that location, or any other person they think may even remotely shed light on the event being investigated.
  • You don’t have to be directly involved to have your phone records examined by NTSB investigators.

The NTSB has authority under the law to demand these records from cellphone providers. These actions are taken because the NTSB considers distractions to be major contributors to collisions, derailments and fatalities, and the use of electronic devices, including cellphones, are considered a distraction.

Moreover, a carrier’s rule relating to the FRA ban on the use of electronic devices, including cellphones, may be more restrictive than the FRA regulations.

It is thus essential you also be aware of your carrier’s rules as they relate to the electronic device and cellphone ban. While the FRA does not permit carrier bans to be less restrictive than the FRA final rule on the ban, the FRA does permit carriers to have a more restrictive rule.

The UTU Transportation Safety Task Force cautions that the safest course of action for our members working in train service is to turn off your cellphone at the beginning of a shift and keep it off.

Many of our members are taking a leadership role in reminding fellow crew members to turn off cellphones and other electronic devices.

We understand many conductors and engineers are starting their shift by showing other crew members that they have turned off their phone.

This is an outstanding way to promote safety through leadership, and we encourage each UTU member to be a leader in this effort.

In solidarity,

UTU Rail Safety Task Force

Greg Hynes, UTU Arizona state legislative director

Steve Evans, UTU Arkansas state legislative director

Jerry Gibson, UTU Michigan state legislative director

For more information on the UTU Rail Safety Task Force, click below:

https://smart-union.org/safety/smart-rail-safety-task-force/

Highlights of the permanent ban on electronic devices and cellphones:

  • The ban prohibits the use of an electronic device — whether personal or railroad supplied — if it interferes with that employee’s or another employee’s performance of safety-related duties. This means while the train is moving, a member of the crew is on the ground or riding rolling equipment during switching, or any railroad employee is assisting in the preparation of the train for movement.
  • While railroad-supplied electronic devices may not be used by the engineer while the train is moving, they may be used by the conductor for authorized business purposes in the cab if use does not interfere with performance of safety-related duties, a safety briefing is conducted that includes all crew members, and all crew members agree that it is safe to use the railroad-supplied electronic device.
  • There is no exception for personal or medical emergencies, such as to check on an ill or injured family member.
  • The ban includes use of personal global positioning service (GPS) devices.
  • The use of calculators is permitted for determining formulas such as train stopping calculations or tons per operative brake.
  • Stand-alone cameras (not part of a cellphone or other electronic device) are permitted to document a safety hazard or a violation of a rail safety law, regulation order, or standard. The camera must be turned off immediately after use. Stand-alone cameras may not be used by the engineer for the above purposes when the train is in motion.
  • Crew members may use railroad-supplied multi-functional devices that include a camera for authorized business purposes as specified by the railroad in writing, and only after being approved by the FRA. An engineer is banned from using such a device when the train is in motion. The railroad-supplied device must be turned off immediately after use.
  • Deadheading crews may use personal electronic devices when not in the cab of the controlling locomotive and such use does not compromise the safety of any operating employee or the safety duties of another operating employee. But when in the cab of the controlling locomotive, deadheading employees are prohibited from using any electronic devices; and they must be turned off and the earpiece must be removed.
  • Personal medical devices such as hearing aids and blood sugar monitors may be used, but must be consistent with the railroad’s standards for medical fitness for duty.
  • A passenger train conductor or assistant conductor may use a railroad-supplied electronic or electrical device for an approved business purpose while on duty within the body of a passenger train or railroad business car. Use of the device shall not interfere with the responsibility to call or acknowledge any signal, inspect any passing train, or perform any other safety-sensitive duty assigned under the railroad’s operating rules and special instructions.
  • A passenger-train conductor or assistant conductor located inside the cab may use a GPS application or a railroad-supplied camera if the crew has held a safety briefing and all crewmembers have unanimously agreed that it is safe to use the device.
  • A passenger-train crewmember outside the cab of a locomotive may use a railroad-supplied camera to photograph a safety hazard if it is for an authorized business purpose and does not interfere with safety-related duties.
  • Railroads have the right to implement their own more stringent rules on the use of electronic devices; but railroads may not liberalize any provisions of the FRA permanent ban.
  • The ban does not subject engineers or conductors (when conductor certification is implemented) to revocation of their certification for a violation of the ban.
  • The FRA has authority under the law to subpoena cellphone records from a cellphone provider.

To read the FRA’s final 40-page rule imposing the permanent ban on electronic devices, including cellphones, click on the following link:
http://edocket.access.gpo.gov:80/2010/2010-23916.htm

April 4, 2011

Rail cellphone ban permanent March 28

The Federal Railroad Administration’s ban on the use of cellphones and other electronic devices — personal and carrier-issued — becomes permanent Monday, March 28.

The ban applies to all on-duty train crew members.

Don’t let a railroad or federal safety inspector make an example of you in proving a dedication to enforcement of the ban.

Here are highlights of the permanent ban:

  • The ban prohibits the use of an electronic device — whether personal or railroad supplied — if it interferes with that employee’s or another employee’s performance of safety-related duties. This means while the train is moving, a member of the crew is on the ground or riding rolling equipment during switching, or any railroad employee is assisting in the preparation of the train for movement.
  • While railroad-supplied electronic devices may not be used by the engineer while the train is moving, they may be used by the conductor for authorized business purposes in the cab if use does not interfere with performance of safety-related duties, a safety briefing is conducted that includes all crew members, and all crew members agree that it is safe to use the railroad-supplied electronic device.
  • There is no exception for personal or medical emergencies, such as to check on an ill or injured family member.
  • The ban includes use of personal global positioning service (GPS) devices.
  • The use of calculators is permitted for determining formulas such as train stopping calculations or tons per operative brake.
  • Stand-alone cameras (not part of a cellphone or other electronic device) are permitted to document a safety hazard or a violation of a rail safety law, regulation order, or standard. The camera must be turned off immediately after use. Stand-alone cameras may not be used by the engineer for the above purposes when the train is in motion.
  • Crew members may use railroad-supplied multi-functional devices that include a camera for authorized business purposes as specified by the railroad in writing, and only after being approved by the FRA. An engineer is banned from using such a device when the train is in motion. The railroad-supplied device must be turned off immediately after use.
  • Deadheading crews may use personal electronic devices when not in the cab of the controlling locomotive and such use does not compromise the safety of any operating employee or the safety duties of another operating employee. But when in the cab of the controlling locomotive, deadheading employees are prohibited from using any electronic devices; and they must be turned off and the earpiece must be removed.
  • Personal medical devices such as hearing aids and blood sugar monitors may be used, but must be consistent with the railroad’s standards for medical fitness for duty.
  • A passenger train conductor or assistant conductor may use a railroad-supplied electronic or electrical device for an approved business purpose while on duty within the body of a passenger train or railroad business car. Use of the device shall not interfere with the responsibility to call or acknowledge any signal, inspect any passing train, or perform any other safety-sensitive duty assigned under the railroad’s operating rules and special instructions.
  • A passenger-train conductor or assistant conductor located inside the cab may use a GPS application or a railroad-supplied camera if the crew has held a safety briefing and all crewmembers have unanimously agreed that it is safe to use the device.
  • A passenger-train crewmember outside the cab of a locomotive may use a railroad-supplied camera to photograph a safety hazard if it is for an authorized business purpose and does not interfere with safety-related duties.
  • Railroads have the right to implement their own more stringent rules on the use of electronic devices; but railroads may not liberalize any provisions of the FRA permanent ban.
  • The ban does not subject engineers or conductors (when conductor certification is implemented) to revocation of their certification for a violation of the ban.
  • The FRA has authority under the law to subpoena cellphone records from a cellphone provider.

To read the FRA’s final 40-page rule, click on the following link:

http://edocket.access.gpo.gov:80/2010/2010-23916.htm

UTU, BLET seek cell-phone ban fixes

The UTU and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen filed on Nov. 14 a joint petition for review by the Federal Railroad Administration of the FRA’s so-called emergency cell phone order, requesting that the FRA make additional exceptions to the order in the name of safety.

The ban, effective Oct. 27, applies to any electronic device that was not provided to the railroad operating employee by the employing railroad for business purposes. (For more detail, see www.utu.org and click on “FRA cell phone ban” at the bottom right corner.)

The UTU and the BLET are seeking exceptions to the order banning the use of personal electronic devices while deadheading; the use of cameras that can document safety hazards or safety law violations; and the use of electronic calculators and global positioning satellite (GPS) devices that can aid safe train operation.

“It is not our intention to unnecessarily complicate a fairly bright-line rule regarding the use of electronic and electrical devices,” UTU International President Mike Futhey and BLET President Ed Rodzwicz jointly in the petition for review. “However, we do believe FRA should seriously consider those atypical situations in which [the emergency order] as currently written could inadvertently result in a diminution of safety, as compared to operating conditions and practices in effect prior to its promulgation.”

As for deadheading, the two unions argue that since deadheading crews have fulfilled their safety-related responsibilities — and in many cases are not on duty — their use of electronic devices should not be restricted to business purpose use only.

To that end, the unions ask the FRA to rewrite a portion of the emergency order to read: “A railroad operating employee who is deadheading may use a cell phone while within the body of a passenger train or railroad business car, or while inside the cab of a locomotive that is not the lead locomotive of the train on which the employee is deadheading.”

As for cameras, the UTU and the BLET argue that the emergency order appears to forbid photographic documentation by a train employee of safety hazards or violations of rail safety laws, regulations, orders or standards, which would actually diminish railroad safety.

The two unions ask for an exemption, which would read:

“An electronic still or video camera may be used to document a safety hazard or a violation of a rail safety law, regulation, order or standard; provided, that (1) the use of a camera in the cab of a moving train may only be by a crew member other than the locomotive engineer, and (2) the use of a camera by a train employee on the ground is permissible only when (a) the employee is not fouling a track, (b) no switching operation is underway, (c) no other safety duties are presently required, and (d) all members of the crew have been briefed that operations are suspended. The use of the photographic function of a cell phone is permitted under these same conditions.”

Third, the unions question a section of the emergency order that prohibits the use of electronic devices such (as calculators) to make computations. The UTU and the BLET point out that a number of safety-critical computational functions are required in numerous circumstances if on-board systems fail or are not provided. These include managing correct horsepower per ton, calculating tons per operative brake, dynamic brake and tractive effort compliance, and correcting train length for speed restrictions and clearing track authorities.

A new section regarding exceptions to this portion of the emergency order should be added as follows:

“When mathematical calculations are required for safe train movement (e.g., managing correct horsepower per ton, calculating tons per operative brake, dynamic brake and tractive effort compliance, and correcting train length), it is permissible to perform such calculations by using an electronic calculator, or by using the calculator function of a cell phone or electronic timepiece.”

Fourth, the two unions petition the FRA to allow the use of global positioning satellite (GPS) tracking devices in order to gauge the accuracy of locomotive speed indicators, particularly when the designated measured mile lies within a temporary speed restriction of less than 30 miles per hour.

One effect of the emergency order is to preclude the use of a GPS device to calculate the speed of a train that is not equipped with a speed indicator because the train will not exceed 20 mph. Another is that the accuracy of a speed indicator determined within a slow order of 30 mph or less cannot be correlated with its accuracy at speed above 30 mph. Maintaining proper train speed is both safety-critical and demanded of a locomotive engineer.

The UTU and BLET ask the FRA to consider an exception to the emergency order for GPS devices, requesting that GPS tracking devices be allowed to verify the accuracy of the speed indicator in a controlling locomotive.