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MTA Metro-North Railroad has selected a health care firm that specializes in sleep disorders to screen all locomotive engineers for sleep apnea, railroad officials announced today.Under a seven-month pilot project, all 410 Metro-North engineers and about 20 engineers in training will undergo an initial screening by the railroad's Occupational Health Services Department based on industry best practices. The locomotive engineers recommended for additional screening will be referred to the contractor, Persante Health Care Inc., Metro-North officials said in a press release.The vendor will provide training and test equipment for an at-home, overnight sleep test. In the morning, the engineer will use a prepaid mailer and send the test device back to the vendor. Every aspect of the pilot was designed to make participation as easy as possible for employees, Metro-North officials said.
Test data will be analyzed and, if needed, employees will be referred to a sleep specialist for additional testing or treatment.
The railroad is pursuing the pilot project as part of its response to the December 2013 derailment near the Bronx that caused four passenger fatalities. An investigation into the incident revealed the train engineer — who later was diagnosed with sleep apnea — fell asleep and failed to stop the train from speeding through a curve, which led to the derailment.
"Today, Metro-North is taking another big step in our pursuit of best safety practices," said President Joseph Giulietti. "This pilot will go a long way to ensuring safety of our customers as well as improving the overall health of our employees."
The railroad developed the pilot in tandem with MTA Long Island Rail Road and MTA New York City Transit, which will be closely following its results, Metro-North officials said.
A contract with Persante will go to the full Metropolitan Transportation Authority board for a vote on Wednesday.
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