On Friday, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo, senior rail industry leaders and rail labor union officials launched a collaborative effort aimed at educating railroad employees about the dangers of using electronic devices while on the job. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is encouraging railroads to adopt anti-distraction programs and challenging all rail employees to avoid the improper use of electronic devices.
"Distraction can impact anyone, whether they're driving a car or working in a railroad environment, and the consequences can be equally serious and even deadly," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a prepared statement.
Rail employees who improperly use electronic devices while on the job violate both federal regulations and railroad operating rules, as well as endanger themselves and possibly their coworkers, rail passengers, and people who live and work along rail lines, FRA officials said.
"I have spent my entire career in the railroad industry, and I know firsthand how distractions can lead to danger," said Szabo. "That's why I'm calling on all rail industry employees to adopt a zero tolerance position on using electronic devices while working, building an even stronger safety culture where workers can confidently depend on one another to keep everyone safe."
In October 2008, the FRA issued an emergency order to prohibit the use of electronic devices by railroad operating employees. The order was codified as a regulation in September 2010.
The kick-off event was held at Union Pacific Railroad's Proviso Yard near Chicago. UP is among the first railroads nationally to adopt a peer-to-peer program designed to eliminate electronic device distractions, FRA officials said.
Many of the issues cited in the National Transportation Safety Board's 2013 "Most Wanted List" of desired safety improvements released last week call for ending distractions in all modes.
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