FRA publishes final rule on fatigue risk management (UPDATE)

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Written by

Marybeth Luczak, Editor-in-Chief

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published a final rule on “Fatigue Risk Management Programs for Certain Passenger and Freight Railroads” in the Federal Register on June 13. The Commuter Rail Coalition (CRC) and the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) respond.

“Under the regulations, Class I freight railroads, Amtrak and commuter railroads must develop and implement a Fatigue Risk Management Program (FRMP) as part of their broader fatigue risk management programs. system security and risk reduction, ENG said in a statement. “Before submitting an FRMP plan to the FRA for approval, each railway is required to consult with affected employees to identify fatigue risks, as well as specific actions to be taken to mitigate or eliminate those risks.”

Railways must take into account in their plans factors that can influence fatigue, such as scheduling practices and an employee’s consecutive hours of rest. The FRMPs will be reviewed annually and updated periodically by the railways; The FRA will carry out periodic audits.

The final rule (download below) fulfills a mandate from the Safer Railways Act 2008 and comes into force on July 13, 2022. The FRA said it “is one of the many ongoing FRA initiatives to address the complex operational, environmental and cultural issues that contribute to fatigue. ”

Industry reaction

What has been the industry reaction so far? CRC Told The age of the railway it “supports the development of rules that, backed by data, make already safe commuter railroads even safer for our riders and employees.”

“We welcome the new FRA rule requiring freight and passenger railways to have fatigue and risk management plans which they develop with workers to address issues of scheduling, screening of drugs and alcohol and hours of service”, TTD President Greg Regan said in a statement on behalf of the group’s 37 unions. “This rule provides a strong framework for continued engagement between unions and the FRA to ensure employers provide working conditions that keep workers and the public safe.

“Fatigue is an industry-wide concern that has been well documented by the FRA. Freight railway workers, in particular, have unpredictable schedules and are constantly on call. These workers may be given 90 minutes notice before working a 12 to 60 hour shift. …

“There is no doubt that punitive attendance policies such as the policies of Union Pacific and BNSF Railway, as well as other Class I railroads, have exacerbated the fatigue problem, putting employees and public in great danger. The FRA is currently carrying out a study on fatigue among conductors and engineers… and we are confident that the final results of this study will show that fatigue is linked to the deterioration of the working conditions of these workers.

National President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, Dennis R. Pierce, said, “I commend the FRA for taking this step in releasing the Fatigue Management Plan Final Rule. We will break down the elements of the rule and provide our General Chairpersons with an analysis of what this rule means to them and how it relates to the broader development of a railroad’s risk reduction plan.

Other FRA efforts

In testimony filed for June 14 House T&I Committee, Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials “Examining Freight Rail Safety” hearingFRA Administrator Bose spoke about other FRA efforts related to fatigue: “Recognizing that fatigue is a complex problem, the [“Fatigue Risk Management Programs for Certain Passenger and Freight Railroads”] rule is only one facet of FRA’s ongoing efforts to resolve the issue. For example, the FRA recently conducted a survey of locomotive engineers and conductors [in which FRA received more than 10,000 responses] to gain a thorough understanding of the factors that contribute to fatigue and the resulting impacts on safety.

“The survey questions focused on factors that may contribute to fatigue, such as work schedules, commuting times and work/life balance. FRA will use the survey results to identify fatigue-related research needs, and the descriptive data from the survey will help FRA find mutually beneficial solutions between railway workers and management. So even after the release of this rule, the FRA will continue to collect and analyze data to better understand the root causes of railway employee fatigue and its effects on safety.

“As required by BIL [Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed Nov. 15, 2021], the FRA will continue to work with rail and union stakeholders to identify parties willing to participate in a pilot project under 49 USC § 21109 to assess the fatigue implications of certain railway employee scheduling practices. railroads. The FRA will also continue to perform fatigue analyzes as part of its investigations into major rail accidents suspected of being caused by human factors. The FRA will continue to review and analyze railroad attendance and other scheduling policies to ensure they do not conflict with federal hours of service laws or they do not affect safety. Based on these continuing efforts, the FRA will take such further action as it deems necessary and within its statutory authority to address issues associated with railway employee fatigue.

As part of related developments, Transport Canada updated the Duty and Rest Period Rules for Railway Operating Employees in November 2020, imposing new limits on the length of duty periods; increase the minimum rest period between shifts; and set limits on the total number of hours worked per week, month and year.

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