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Rail News: Labor

BLET letter to railroad CEOs raises concerns about locomotive engineer fatigue

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) is asking the largest freight railroads in North America to work with the union to address a major safety concern: locomotive engineer fatigue.

In a letter sent this week to the railroads' chief executive officers, BLET National President Dennis Pierce challenged the companies to take a "less punitive approach" to employee relations in order to make the industry safer.

Pierce expressed concern that fatigued engineers who are "forced by threat of an attendance policy violation" to work can result in circumstances that jeopardize safety. He cited National Transportation Safety Board accident reports that have shown that employees who work when fatigued pose a significant safety risk for railroads.

Policies at the railroads that received the letter don't include an exception for employees "who lay off when fatigued, exhausted, overworked or otherwise unable to perform safety-critical duties," Pierce wrote. He encouraged the CEOs to instruct their railroad managers to allow fatigued locomotive engineers "to lay off without fear of disciplinary retaliation."

"It is clear that if forced to work when fatigued by no fault of their own, [the locomotive engineers] will be jeopardizing their own safety as well as the safe operation of the trains to which they are assigned, which in turn directly endangers the safety of the general public and their co-workers," Pierce wrote.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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