WASHINGTON – Greg Regan, the President of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, issued this statement in response to the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) new Rule requiring certain railroads to develop and implement a Fatigue Risk Management Program as one component of the railroads’ larger railroad safety risk reduction programs:
“Fatigue is endemic in America’s freight rail industry. We 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.
“Fatigue is an industry-wide concern that has been well-documented by the FRA. Freight railroaders, in particular, have unpredictable schedules and are continuously on call. These workers may have 90 minutes’ notice before working a 12 to 60 hour shift hauling explosive, flammable or radioactive materials.
“There is no doubt that punitive 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 employees and the public at great risk. The FRA is currently conducting a study on fatigue among conductors and engineers – the two categories of workers affected by BNSF’s recently-implemented Hi Viz attendance policy – and we are confident the final results of this study will show that fatigue is linked to worsening workplace conditions for these workers.”