NTSB Urges Rules To Reduce Worker Fatigue

July 26, 2006

The National Transportation Safety Board recently urged the Federal Railroad Administration, a regulatory agency, to create rules that would help reduce worker fatigue.

The recommendation comes after the board found a Union Pacific crew responsible for a fatal 2004 crash. According to NTSB investigator Gerald Weeks, the crew worked irregular hours and were not alert at the time of the accident.

The engineer, who said he didn't remember anything about the accident, had worked 37 out of 55 hours before his shift and was still within the federal limits regulating duty time.

The Federal Railroad Administration currently has duty limits requiring at least 8 hours of rest after 12 hours of work, and 10 hours off when duty time exceeds 12 hours.

Although not officially required to adopt the NTSB's safety recommendations, the administration plans to release a report on fatigue by August. Drawing on Defense Department and other agency studies, the report will include methods to quantify tiredness and fatigue in workers.

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