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Rail News: Labor

BRS awaits results of fatigue study to address signalmen's alertness

In summer, Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) officials will obtain the results of a fatigue study sponsored by the Federal Railroad Administration and conducted by Foster-Miller Inc.

Similar to a fatigue study planned by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWE), BRS' study aims to develop a better understanding of members' work/rest schedules and sleep patterns, and the relationship between schedules and workers' alertness.

"Fatigue is a huge factor in our industry," said BRS International President Dan Pickett in a prepared statement. "The expansion of the Hours of Service Act, the erratic call-schedule of signal maintainers and the workweek variations signalmen are subject to produce an environment where fatigue is the norm."

Between October and February, Foster-Miller officials collected data from more than 400 randomly selected BRS members nationwide, who were asked to complete a work/sleep diary for two weeks and fill out a companion background survey. Participants recorded the time they went to bed, woke up and worked during the day, and how many times they awakened during the night and took daytime naps. They also rated how easily they fell asleep and awakened, how well they slept and how alert they felt during the day.

After Foster-Miller analyzes study data and releases results in July or August, BRS officials plan to work with FRA and rail industry representatives to develop schedules and initiatives that reduce workers' fatigue level. FRA officials are trying to determine the effects of fatigue on non-operating craft workers, such as track maintenance, locomotive and car repair, and telecommunications employees.

Foster-Miller expects to begin BMWE's study — under which about 350 randomly selected members will complete work/sleep diaries — in summer and release results sometime next year.

Jeff Stagl

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/6/2004