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FRA releases new rule on fatigue management

By Admin

Reported by Trains.

The Federal Railroad Administration has issued its new rule on railroad fatigue management, set for formal publication on Monday, and at least one rail union leader has offered a positive response.

The final rule, “Fatigue Risk Management Programs for Certain Passenger and Freight Railroads,” is available here for public inspection. Following its publication on Monday, it will become effective July 13. It requires railroads to identify situations with a risk of fatigue and mitigate or eliminate those risks, including such factors as scheduling practices and employees’ consecutive off-duty hours.

“Under the regulation,” the FRA said in a statement, “Class I freight railroads, Amtrak and commuter railroads must develop and implement a Fatigue Risk Management Program (FRMP) as part of their larger system safety and risk reduction programs. Before submitting a FMRP plan to FRA for approval, each railroad is required to consult with affected employees to identify fatigue hazards, as well as specific actions to be taken to mitigate or eliminate those risks. … This rule is one of several ongoing FRA initiatives to address the complex operational, environmental, and cultural issues that contribute to fatigue.”

Greg Regan, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, said in a statement that his organization’s 37 unions “welcome the FRA’s new rule requiring freight and passenger railroads to have Fatigue and Risk Management Plans that they develop with workers to address scheduling, drug and alcohol testing, and hours of service concerns. This rule provides a solid framework for continued engagement between labor unions and the FRA to ensure that employers are providing working conditions that keep workers and the public safe.

Regan said “punative attendance policies such as the policies at Union Pacific and BNSF Railway, as well as other Class I railroads, have exacerbated the fatigue issue, putting the employees and public at great risk.” The FRA is currently studying fatigue among conductors and engineers, he said, “and we are confident the final results of this study will show that fatigue is linked to worsening workplace conditions for these workers.”

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