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6/30/2004



Rail News: Labor

FRA obtains funds to begin BMWE fatigue study



The Federal Railroad Administration recently received federal funds to begin a fatigue study of Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWE) members.

Entitled "Work Schedules and Sleep Patterns of Maintenance of Way Employees," and conducted by Foster-Miller Inc., the study will help FRA and BMWE officials "develop a better understanding of the work/rest schedules and sleep patterns of maintenance-of-way workers, and evaluate the relationship between schedules and fatigue," according to a prepared statement.

Soon, Foster-Miller will mail a form and log book to more than 800 randomly selected BMWE members. The consultant is asking workers to complete the survey and fill out a work/sleep diary for two weeks, including commute times, work hours, meal periods and "call outs." Participants who submit diaries and questionnaires will receive a $75 gift certificate.

"Fatigue is a huge factor in our industry," said Acting BMWE President Freddie Simpson. "The expansion of territories, erratic on-call status of BMWE members, work week variations, and inadequate away from home lodging and meal arrangements contribute to an environment where fatigue is the norm."

Early next year, Foster-Miller representatives will release study results — compiled from about 350 participants — to BMWE and FRA officials.

Administration officials are trying to determine fatigue's effects on non-operating craft workers, such as track maintenance, locomotive and car repair, and telecommunications employees. In late summer, the FRA will receive results from a similar fatigue study it sponsored — and Foster-Miller conducted — for the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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