BNSF fights worker fatigue with rest-day program, plus other initiatives (6/7/2002)


To combat worker fatigue, Burlington Northern Santa Fe through 2002 has implemented a rest-day program to provide scheduled off days for certain train and engine employees.

BNSF refers to the program as an overlay because a 7 days on/3 days off or 11 on/4 off schedule is "overlaid" on employees’ regular work cycle. Days off are allocated — not mandatory — and the railroad encourages workers to take their allocated rest days.

"By giving employees a no-hassle way to plan their schedules and their time off, the overlay program helps make fatigue a non-issue," said Don Helander, BNSF locomotive engineer, in a statement prepared June 6.

BNSF has rolled out the program at 68 locations and plans soon to do so at 20 more locations.

"[The program's] beneficial to the railroad and to us," said Don Seyer, BNSF conductor. "The railroad has happier, safer employees and can stagger the assigned rest days to better predict when employees will be taking time off, and employees are better rested and have improved quality of life."

BNSF also implemented other fatigue countermeasures earlier this year, including a scheduled rest-day program for yard crews, more predictable train-crew work-cycle start times, a napping policy, a resting facility survey and various educational programs.

Source: Progressive Railroading Daily News