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11/18/2008



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

FRA should make exceptions to electronic device order, BLET and UTU say


Last week, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and United Transportation Union (UTU) filed a joint petition with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requesting that the agency review its order restricting railroad workers’ use of electronic devices while on the job.

The unions believe the FRA should make additional exceptions to the order for safety reasons.

The order, which took effect Oct. 27, prohibits the use of personal electronic devices by railroad employees while operating trains and in other settings. The rule applies to any electronic device that was not provided to the worker by the employing railroad for business purposes.

The BLET and UTU claim the order shouldn’t ban the use of personal electronic devices while workers are deadheading, the use of cameras that can document safety hazards or safety law violations, and the use of electronic calculators and global positioning satellite (GPS) devices that can aid safe train operations.

"It is not our intention to unnecessarily complicate a fairly bright-line rule regarding the use of electronic and electrical devices," said UTU International President Mike Futhey and BLET President Ed Rodzwicz in a joint press release. "However, we do believe the FRA should seriously consider those atypical situations in which [the emergency order] as currently written could inadvertently result in a diminution of safety.”


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