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9/9/2002



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

BLE proposes fatigue-management plan at Washington meeting


Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers Sept. 6 presented a three-pronged fatigue counter-measure plan to railroad officials and government regulators at a Washington, D.C., meeting.


The plan would focus on education, information and empowerment — enabling rail operating employees to decline work if they're fatigued after completing a set amount of work each month.


Meeting attendees included representatives from Class Is, Association of American Railroads, Federal Railroad Administration, National Transportation Safety Board and several rail-labor unions.


The best way to combat fatigue is through a combination of agreements obtained through collective bargaining and by developing federal regulations, said BLE officials in a prepared statement.


The union proposed that FRA issue a "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" and concurrently develop a regulation stating, "No railroad employee shall operate railroad equipment, and a railroad shall not require or permit an employee to operate railroad equipment, while the employee's ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the railroad equipment."


As part of the proposed regulation, an employee (having worked a minimum of 20 starts or 2,600 miles of hours-of-service duty the past 30 days) would have the right to decline work after meeting certain criteria.


However, if any carrier develops a more effective fatigue-countering program through negotiations with BLE, then that carrier would be exempt from a proposed rulemaking.


Although some attendees didn't agree with BLE's proposed plan, all agreed that further talks are necessary to address worker fatigue.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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