Canadian rails' safety performance tied to well-rested engineers, Railway Association of Canada says (6/21/2001)


Canadian railroads' efforts to improve safety are working — the roads in 2000 reported 13.8 accidents per million train miles compared with 15.2 accidents per million train miles in 1999, according to Railway Association of Canada (RAC).

"Last year set a safety record for the industry," said Mike Lowenger, RAC vice president of operations and regulatory affairs, in a prepared statement. "The industry has worked hard to improve and has involved all its partners in the process — employees, shippers, unions, manufacturers and others."

RAC believes Canadian rails have successfully minimized operator fatigue; although locomotive engineers work 12-hour days, collective agreements limit their work week to a 40-hour average.

"Following numerous studies on both fatigue and operator practices on duty, railway policies now address such measures as assignment scheduling, assigned days off, napping facilities and opportunities, educational interventions and work/rest consultation," said Lowenger.

Canadian railroads continue to develop Fatigue Management Plans (FMPs), designed to incorporate the latest scientific findings on biorhythms and work-related fatigue to ensure locomotive engineers obtain proper rest.

The railways — which are proposing new work schedules and rest rules that mandate the use of FMPs — incorporated napping provisions in recent collective agreements, enabling engineers to take action when requiring sleep.

Canada, like the United States, regulates rail safety and mandates cab monitoring; nearly all locomotives carry two operating employees at all times.

All mainline locomotives also are required to have event recorders and Reset Safety Control devices, designed to monitor engineers' alertness. If an engineer becomes tired or ill and doesn't respond to reading indicators, alarms sound; if there's still no response, the train automatically comes to a stop.

Source: Progressive Railroading Daily News