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Rail News: Safety

FRA proposes rule on safety regulation training standards


Yesterday, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced it issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would require railroads to train and qualify employees in safety-related positions on federal railroad safety laws, regulations and orders.

Each railroad or contractor with one or more safety-related rail employees would be required to develop a training program designating the qualifications of each worker and submit the program to the FRA for approval. Employers would periodically analyze workers’ compliance with federal railroad safety laws and conduct annual written reviews of their training programs to close performance gaps.

“Well-designed training programs have the potential to further reduce risk in the railroad environment,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo in a prepared statement. “We believe that better training can reduce the number of accidents, particularly those caused by human factors, which account for the vast majority of reportable accidents each year.”

The FRA developed the NRPM with input from federal and state government, rail industry and rail labor representatives.

Although many railroads provide self-directed, computer-based safety training to employees, many workers are unprepared for job hazards, said United Transportation Union National Legislative Director James Stem in a news item posted on the union’s web site. The proposed rule would create nationwide uniformity in training, he believes.

“Where there’s no instructor in the room, and all of the available information for the student is on the screen, if the student doesn’t understand the question, he or she has no one to ask,” said Stem. “That student is then sent to the field.”

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/8/2012