Posts Tagged ‘fatigue’

FRA roundup – several actions published in Federal Register

Over the past 1.5 weeks, the Federal Railroad Administration has published several notices in the Federal Register. Below are portions of those postings, including: Drug and alcohol testing: Determination of minimum random testing rates for 2021 (notification of determination); Qualification and certification of locomotive engineers – miscellaneous revisions (final rule); Positive train control systems (notice of proposed rulemaking); and Fatigue risk management programs for certain passenger and freight railroads (notice of proposed rulemaking).


Drug and alcohol testing: Determination of minimum random testing rates for 2021 (notification of determination) – (published 12/15/2020)

Supplementary information:

FRA is announcing the 2021 minimum annual random drug and alcohol testing rates for covered service and MOW employees. For calendar year 2021, the minimum annual random testing rates for covered service employees will continue to be 25% for drugs and 10% for alcohol, while the minimum annual random testing rates for MOW employees will continue to be 50% for drugs and will be lowered to 10% for alcohol. Because these rates represent minimums, railroads and contractors may conduct FRA random testing at higher rates.

Discussion:

To set its minimum annual random testing rates for each year, FRA examines the last two complete calendar years of railroad industry drug and alcohol program data submitted to its Management Information System (MIS). FRA has also, however, reserved the right to consider factors other than MIS-reported data before deciding whether to lower annual minimum random testing rates. See 63 FR 71789 (Dec. 30, 1998).

Random testing rates for covered service employees

The rail industry’s random drug testing positive rate for covered service employees (employees subject to the Federal hours of service laws and regulations) remained below 1.0% for 2018 and 2019. The administrator has therefore determined the minimum annual random drug testing rate for the period January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021, will remain at 25% for covered service employees. The industry-wide random alcohol testing violation rate for covered service employees remained below 0.5% for 2018 and 2019. Therefore, the administrator has determined the minimum random alcohol testing rate will remain at 10% for covered service employees for the period January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021.

Random testing rates for MOW employees

MOW employees became subject to FRA random drug and alcohol testing in June 2017. See 81 FR 37894 (June 10, 2016). FRA now has MIS data for two full consecutive years of the industry-wide performance rates for MOW employees, 2018 and 2019. While FRA may lower the minimum random drug testing rate to 25% whenever the industry-wide random drug positive rate is less than 1.0 percent for two consecutive calendar years while testing at the 50% rate, FRA has reserved the right to consider other factors before deciding whether to lower annual minimum random testing rates. See 63 FR 71789 (Dec. 30, 1998).

As illustrated in the figures in the appendix below, in contrast to the drug testing positive rate for covered service employees that remained substantially below 1.0% for 2018 and 2019, the random drug testing positive rate for MOW employees is not only trending upwards, but also approaching the 1.0% positive rate threshold at which point the administrator will raise the drug testing rate under 49 CFR 219.625(d)(2). Specifically, the industry-wide random drug testing violation rate for MOW employees increased from 0.69% in 2018 to 0.8% in 2019, and MOW employees continue to have a higher positive testing rate than covered service employees.[1The Administrator further notes that MOW employees who were performing duties for a railroad before June 12, 2017, were exempted from the pre-employment drug testing requirement. See 49 CFR 219.501(e). As such, some MOW employees may remain who have never been subject to FRA drug testing because they have not yet been randomly selected.

Taking these factors into consideration, the administrator finds it is currently not in the interest of railroad safety to lower the random drug testing rate for MOW employees. Therefore, for the period January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021, the administrator has determined that the minimum annual random drug testing rate will continue to be 50% for MOW employees.

Because the random alcohol testing violation rate for MOW employees remained substantially below 0.5% for 2018 and 2019, and has been trending downwards, the administrator has determined that the minimum annual random alcohol testing rate will be lowered to 10% for MOW employees for the period January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021.

 Click here to read the full notice as published in the Federal Register.


Qualification and certification of locomotive engineers; miscellaneous revisions (final rule) – published 12/15/2020

Summary:

FRA is revising its regulation governing the qualification and certification of locomotive engineers to make it consistent with its regulation for the qualification and certification of conductors. The changes include: Amending the program submission process; handling engineer and conductor petitions for review with a single FRA review board (Operating Crew Review Board or OCRB); and revising the filing requirements for petitions to the OCRB. To ensure consistency throughout its regulations, FRA is also making conforming amendments to its regulations governing the control of alcohol and drug use, and the qualification and certification of conductors. The changes would reduce regulatory burdens on the railroad industry while maintaining the existing level of safety.

Dates:

This regulation is effective January 14, 2021.

Executive Summary

On May 9, 2019, FRA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 240, Qualification and Certification of Locomotive Engineers (part 240).[1In response to that NPRM, FRA received three written comments.

This final rule responds to those comments and amends part 240 by: Making part 240 more consistent with the language in 49 CFR part 242, Qualification and Certification of Conductors (part 242); creating two provisions under which railroads may issue temporary locomotive engineer certifications; merging FRA’s locomotive engineer and conductor review boards; adopting aspects of part 242 for locomotive engineer certification; providing labor representatives with the ability to provide input on a railroad’s part 240 program; and allowing for and encouraging the use of electronic document submission of a railroad’s part 240 program. This final rule also makes technical amendments to part 242 to: (1) Make the requirement for calibration of audiometers used during hearing tests for conductors the same as the requirement in part 240 for locomotive engineers; and (2) conform the definition of “main track” in part 242 to the definition of “main track” in part 240.

Additionally, this final rule makes conforming amendments to title 49 CFR part 219, Control of Alcohol and Drug Use (part 219) to update two cross-references to part 240. Updating these references is necessary to ensure consistency between part 219 and part 240, as amended.

The final rule will create new costs. First, each locomotive engineer certification manager will need to review the amendments made to part 240 to ensure compliance is maintained. Second, amendments to part 240 will require each railroad to provide a copy of its part 240 plan to the president of each labor organization whenever the railroad files a submission, resubmission, or makes a material modification to its plan. Third, a railroad will need to maintain service records for certified locomotive engineers who are not performing service that requires locomotive engineer certification. For the 20-year period of analysis, the cost of the final rule will be $233,779 (undiscounted), $171,764 (PV 7%), and $200,775 (PV 3%).

The final rule will also create cost savings. First, adding clarity in part 240 and conforming language in part 240 to part 242 will reduce stakeholder burden related to review and compliance with part 240. Second, it will reduce the burden on a railroad when providing another railroad with information about a former employee’s prior service records. Third, it will update the program submission process to allow for electronic document submission, which will reduce stakeholder paperwork and submission costs related to part 240 program submissions and locomotive engineer certification petitions. Fourth, it will remove the requirement for railroads to obtain a waiver from the annual testing requirements for certified locomotive engineers who are not performing service that requires certification. For the 20-year period of analysis, the cost savings of the final rule will be $12.3 million (undiscounted), $6.9 million (PV 7%), and $9.4 million (PV 3%).

As shown in Table ES.1, the regulatory evaluation quantifies the economic impact of the final rule in terms of cost savings and new costs accruing to stakeholders. For the 20-year period of analysis, the final rule will result in a net cost savings of $12.0 million (undiscounted), $6.8 million (PV 7%), and $9.2 million (PV 3%). This final rule is an Executive Order (E.O.) 13771 deregulatory action. Details on the estimated costs of this final rule can be found in the rule’s economic analysis.

(Click here to view table).

The final rule will create benefits. First, the final rule will amend the part 240 program submission process to require railroads to solicit labor input, providing for fully informed decisions by railroads. Second, it affords railroads additional time and flexibility to comply with some regulatory requirements. Third, it creates certain provisions that allow for temporary locomotive engineer certificates. Fourth, electronic filing will make information more accessible to interested stakeholders and the public. Because FRA lacks sufficient information related to these four benefits, this analysis could not accurately quantify these benefits. Therefore, the rule’s economic analysis qualitatively explains benefits.

The final rule will also reduce Governmental administrative costs, including mailing, filing, and storing costs related to amendments to part 240, by allowing the Government and stakeholders to transmit and store documents electronically.

This is just a small portion of the actual notice in the Federal Register. Click here to read the full final rule as published in the Federal Register.


Positive train control systems (notice of proposed rulemaking) – published 12/18/2020

Summary:

FRA is proposing to revise its regulations governing changes to positive train control (PTC) systems and reporting on PTC system functioning. First, recognizing that the railroad industry intends to enhance further FRA-certified PTC systems to continue improving rail safety and PTC technology’s reliability and operability, FRA proposes to modify the process by which a host railroad must submit a request for amendment (RFA) to FRA before making certain changes to its PTC Safety Plan (PTCSP) and FRA-certified PTC system. Second, to enable more effective FRA oversight, FRA proposes to: Expand an existing reporting requirement by increasing the frequency from annual to biannual; broaden the reporting requirement to encompass positive performance-related information, not just failure-related information; and require host railroads to utilize a new, standardized Biannual Report of PTC System Performance (Form FRA F 6180.152). Overall, the proposed amendments would benefit the railroad industry, the public, and FRA, by reducing unnecessary costs, facilitating innovation, and improving FRA’s ability to oversee PTC system performance and reliability, while not negatively affecting rail safety.

Dates:

Written comments must be received by February 16, 2021. FRA believes a 60-day comment period is appropriate to allow the public to comment on this proposed rule. FRA will consider comments received after that date to the extent practicable.

Addresses:

Comments: Comments related to Docket No. FRA-2019-0075 may be submitted by going to http://www.regulations.gov and following the online instructions for submitting comments.

Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name, docket number (FRA-2019-0075), and Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) for this rulemaking (2130-AC75). All comments received will be posted without change to https://www.regulations.gov;​ this includes any personal information. Please see the Privacy Act heading in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document for Privacy Act information related to any submitted comments or materials.

Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to https://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for accessing the docket.

This is just a small portion of the actual notice in the Federal Register. Click here to read the full notice of proposed rulemaking as published in the Federal Register.


Fatigue risk management programs for certain passenger and freight railroads (notice of proposed rulemaking) – published 12/22/2020

Summary:

Pursuant to the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, FRA proposes to issue regulations requiring certain railroads to develop and implement a Fatigue Risk Management Program, as one component of the railroads’ larger railroad safety risk reduction programs.

Dates:

Written comments must be received by February 22, 2021. Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent practicable without incurring additional expense or delay.

Addresses:

Comments related to Docket No. FRA-2015-0122 may be submitted by going to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name, docket name and docket number or Regulatory Identification Number (RIN) for this rulemaking (2130-AC54). Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. Please see the Privacy Act heading in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document for Privacy Act information on any submitted comments or materials.

Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov.

Introduction and Executive Summary:

Purpose of Rulemaking

This proposed rule is part of FRA’s efforts to improve rail safety continually and to satisfy the statutory mandate of Section 103 of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA).[1That section, codified at 49 U.S.C. 20156, requires Class I railroads; railroad carriers with inadequate safety performance (ISP), as determined by the Secretary; and railroad carriers that provide intercity rail passenger or commuter rail passenger transportation to develop and implement a safety risk reduction program to improve the safety of their operations. The section further requires a railroad’s safety risk reduction program to include a “fatigue management plan” meeting certain requirements.

This proposed rule, if finalized, would fulfill RSIA’s mandate for railroads to include fatigue management plans in their safety risk reduction programs by requiring railroads to develop and implement Fatigue Risk Management Programs (FRMPs).[2As proposed, a railroad would implement its FRMP through an FRMP plan.

Under this proposed rule, consistent with the mandate of Section 20156, an FRMP is a comprehensive, system-oriented approach to safety in which a railroad determines its fatigue risk by identifying and analyzing applicable hazards and takes action to mitigate, if not eliminate, that fatigue risk.[3As proposed, a railroad would be required to prepare a written FRMP plan and submit it to FRA for review and approval. A railroad’s written FRMP plan would become part of its existing safety risk reduction program plan. A railroad would also be required to implement its FRA-approved FRMP plan, conduct an internal annual assessment of its FRMP, and consistent with Section 20156’s mandate, update its FRMP plan periodically. As part of a railroad safety risk reduction program, a railroad’s FRMP would also be subject to assessments by FRA.

This is just a small portion of the actual notice in the Federal Register. Click here to read the full notice of proposed rulemaking as published in the Federal Register.

 

As holidays approach, a note from President Ferguson

Dear Brothers & Sisters:

We are approaching the close of another year, and my thoughts grow stronger about each of you during this forthcoming holiday period.

Your daily lifestyles, both personally and professionally, are demanding and sometimes conflictive. Giving them respect and balance can be a challenge.

In that regard, do not compromise the importance of adequate rest. Exercising sound judgment when it comes to rest will minimize the risk of failure when fulfilling your chosen responsibilities as a transportation worker.

I’ve walked in your shoes and understand the lifestyle of being a professional railroader. Fatigue can lead to a loss of situational awareness, and a loss of situational awareness can often lead to tragedy. The holidays are a dangerous time of year for our industry.

In that regard take care of yourself, be safe and do what is right.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

Jeremy R. Ferguson,
President, Transportation Division

Canadian safety board addresses train crew fatigue

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB), put train crew fatigue on its 2016 watch list. The list identifies key safety issues in Canadian transportation.

TSB Chairperson Kathy Fox told Reuters that the board would push for concrete action, including the creation of predictable scheduling for employees. Fox also said that fatigue has been a factor in numerous investigations of freight train accidents.

Read more from Yahoo!.

Fatigue at CP threatens rail safety

cp-logo-240The CBC News reported that Transport Canada recently ordered Canadian Pacific Railway to change its fatigue-management practices and freight train line-ups in British Columbia since they pose “an immediate threat to safe railway operations.” 

Read the entire article here.

Railroad workers say long shifts unsafe

fatigue_thumbSome BNSF Railway employees are sounding the alarm about what they say are unsafe working conditions as a result of long shifts that could lead to extreme fatigue while hauling hazardous materials.

According to one BNSF employee who contacted the Pilot, the company has imposed a new method of operation that has employees working 12-hour days, sometimes six to 10 days in a row.

“Such a safety sensitive job for engineers and conductors running trains that are up to 17,000 tons, hauling hazardous materials and such,” said the employee who declined to be publicly identified.

Read more from Bakken.com

FMCSA: commercial motor vehicle study concludes

FMCSA-LogoWASHINGTON – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced today that the Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Driver Restart Study has concluded data collection for the congressionally-mandated naturalistic study of the operational, safety, health, and fatigue impacts of two provisions of the hours-of-service (HOS) restart regulations.  
 
Following the study requirements set forth by Congress, the study team collected data to compare five-month work schedules of drivers to assess safety critical events (e.g., crashes, near-crashes, and crash-relevant conflicts), operator fatigue/alertness, and short-term health outcomes of drivers who operate under the HOS restart provisions in effect between July 1, 2013 and December 15, 2014, and those drivers who operate under the provisions as in effect prior to July 1, 2013.
 
Drivers from a wide variety of fleet sizes and operations provided a substantial amount of data throughout the course of the study period.  More than 220 participating drivers contributed data as they drove their normal, revenue-producing routes, including:

  • More than 3,000 driver duty cycles, as captured by electronic logging devices
  • More than 75,000 driver alertness tests
  • More than 22,000 days of driver sleep data

Data analysis has commenced, and the agency is working toward completing the final report by the end of the year.  The agency does not have preliminary study findings; however, FMCSA is pleased with the high volume of data collected from participating drivers and expects this data will help inform future activities by the agency as well as the current study.
 
The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (P.L. 113-235), enacted December 16, 2014, suspended enforcement of sections 395.3(c) and 395.3(d) of the HOS regulations.  Section 395.3(c) requires a CMV driver who wants to restart his/her weekly driving window (of 60 hours on duty in 7 consecutive days, or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days) to take two consecutive periods off duty from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. as part of the 34-hour (or longer) restart.  Section 395.3(d) allows the voluntary 34-hour restart to be used only once every seven days.  These provisions were enacted following extensive research and public comment with the goal of reducing excessively long work hours that increase both the risk of fatigue-related crashes and long-term health problems for drivers.  Enforcement of these sections will remain suspended as required by Congress until the Secretary of Transportation submits the CMV Driver Restart Study final report to Congress.
 
For additional information and to view an updated list of Frequently Asked Questions, click here.

Canadian rails fight new rules to prevent crew fatigue

transport-canada-logoCanada’s major freight rail companies are fighting moves by the federal transportation regulator to curb “extreme fatigue” among railway engineers, a CBC News investigation has found.

CN Rail, CP and the Railway Association of Canada went on the attack two weeks ago at a “tense and heated” meeting of industry, union and government representatives, according to a number of people present.

The conflict was over research by Transport Canada that found high levels of exhaustion among workers driving freight trains, and proposals by the regulator to impose new limits on scheduling to help reduce their fatigue.

Read more from CBCNews.

Freight train drivers report falling asleep on the job

Train operators in Canada’s burgeoning freight rail industry report falling asleep at the controls and coming to work exhausted at an alarmingly high rate, according to an ongoing CBC News investigation into rail safety.

“I have had instances where I have just snapped back into reality, and kind of, for a few seconds, not really realized or recognized where I am,” one Ontario-based CN rail engineer told CBC News, recalling how he’d missed a signal at the controls of a three-kilometre-long train.

Read the complete story CBC News.

Start-time variability contributes to fatigue, accidents

FRA_logo_wordsStart time variability in work schedules is often assumed to be a cause of railroad employee fatigue because unpredictable work-start times prevent employees from planning sleep and personal activities.

A new report published by the Federal Railroad Administration examines work start time differences from three different databases previously published by the FRA. The studies conclude that high variability in shift start times is found to contribute to human fatigue, which is known to increase the probability of accidents. Thus, a potential way of increasing safety is to reduce shift start-time variability.

Discussions about employee fatigue in the U.S. railroad industry often focus on the predictability of work start times for employees engaged in train and engine (T&E) freight and passenger service.

According to the FRA, labor union representatives often argue that unpredictable work start times heavily prevent employees from planning sleep and personal activities, which then results in fatigue.

Train and engine employees who work in yards, local freight service, and passenger and commuter operations have jobs with regular start times and high work start time predictability. However, employees on the extra board, which sometimes offers employees additional compensation for volunteering to work additional hours within the statutory limit, have work schedules that may vary from day to day because they fill in for employees with regular assignments.

These jobs have lower work start time predictability. Jobs in passenger service often have a split assignment in which the employee works the morning rush, has time off in the middle of the day (referred to as “interim release”), and returns to work for the evening rush. Interim release is usually four hours or more. These jobs often have high work start time predictability.

Train and engine employees who work in road freight service often do not have a regular work schedule as far as the days that they work or the time that their work starts. These jobs have low start time predictability.

To view the FRA report, click here.

Train operator in Chicago crash had fallen asleep

CHICAGO – The operator of a Chicago commuter train that crashed at O’Hare International Airport acknowledged she dozed off before the accident and had also done so last month when she overshot a station platform, a federal investigator said Wednesday (March 26).

Before the crash, the operator had been running trains on the nation’s second-largest public transportation system for just two months. In Monday’s accident, which injured more than 30 people, she woke up only as the eight-car train jolted onto the platform and barreled up an escalator leading into the airport. The accident occurred around 3 a.m., as the driver was nearing the end of her shift. The woman had an erratic work schedule and investigators were looking to see if that played a role in her evident fatigue.

Read the complete story at the Associated Press.

'Miracle' no deaths in Chicago airport train crash

CHICAGO – A Chicago train driven by an apparently sleepy operator, which jumped its tracks and screeched up an escalator at one of the world’s busiest airports, could have caused untold death and destruction had the crash occurred during the day when the station is usually packed with travelers, a transportation expert said.

More than 30 people were hurt when the Chicago Transit Authority train mounted a platform and crashed at O’Hare International Airport around 3 a.m. Monday. Federal investigators, who have released little information on what may have caused the accident, were expected back on the scene Tuesday.

Read the complete story at the Associated Press.

Sleep loss may cause brain damage

Are you a truck driver or shift worker planning to catch up on some sleep this weekend?

Cramming in extra hours of shut-eye may not make up for those lost pulling all-nighters, new research indicates.

The damage may already be done – brain damage, that is, said neuroscientist Sigrid Veasey from the University of Pennsylvania.

Read the complete story at CNN.