September 3, 2014

Start-time variability contributes to fatigue, accidents

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Start time variability in work schedules is often assumed to be a cause of railroad employee fatigue because unpredictable work-start times prevent employees from planning sleep and personal activities. A new report published by the Federal Railroad Administration examines work start time differences from three different databases previously published by the FRA. The studies conclude [...]

Train operator in Chicago crash had fallen asleep

CHICAGO – The operator of a Chicago commuter train that crashed at O’Hare International Airport acknowledged she dozed off before the accident and had also done so last month when she overshot a station platform, a federal investigator said Wednesday (March 26). Before the crash, the operator had been running trains on the nation’s second-largest [...]

‘Miracle’ no deaths in Chicago airport train crash

CHICAGO – A Chicago train driven by an apparently sleepy operator, which jumped its tracks and screeched up an escalator at one of the world’s busiest airports, could have caused untold death and destruction had the crash occurred during the day when the station is usually packed with travelers, a transportation expert said. More than [...]

Sleep loss may cause brain damage

Are you a truck driver or shift worker planning to catch up on some sleep this weekend? Cramming in extra hours of shut-eye may not make up for those lost pulling all-nighters, new research indicates. The damage may already be done – brain damage, that is, said neuroscientist Sigrid Veasey from the University of Pennsylvania. [...]

Tired freight rail employees? You bet

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A short quiz for you. If you had anything to do with the safe movement of a 10,000 ton freight train, does it make sense for you to routinely show up to work tired? Hint: NO. That’s the problem we have today in the freight rail industry. Too many tired employees are involved in operating [...]

‘Highway hypnosis’ could be factor in derailment

NEW YORK – It’s sometimes called “highway hypnosis” or “white-line fever,” and it’s familiar to anyone who has ever driven long distances along a monotonous route. Drivers are lulled into a semitrance state and reach their destination with little or no memory of parts of the trip. But what if it happened to an engineer [...]

Engineer says cell phone not factor in crash

The engineer of one of two ore trains that crashed head-on just outside of Two Harbors, Minn., in 2010 is taking issue with the National Transportation Safety Board report on the accident, disputing that cell phone use by the train crews was a relevant factor. In an exclusive interview with the News-Chronicle Feb. 20, Dan [...]

FRA issues new report on fatigue

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The Federal Railroad Administration has issued a new report on the status of fatigue among railroad industry employees. In 2001, the FRA began examining the fatigue status of safety-critical railroad employees by using logbooks to collect work and sleep data over a period of two weeks from a representative sample of employees in each group. [...]

High-tech chicken soup to ease fatigue

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Sleep, fatigue, workplace safety and quality of life are stitched together tighter than the seams on a major league baseball – and unpredictable work schedules can undo those stitches faster than a Stephen Strasburg 100-mph heater. A new website, created by sleep scientists at Harvard Medical School, the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and the [...]

Lullaby and goodnight — if only …

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UTU members hearing about a National Sleep Foundation study just released might be tempted to roll their eyes and ask – depending on craft – “Does ballast contain rip-rap? Do buses have headlights? Do airplanes have wings?” Yet, sometimes, what is as obvious to transportation workers as closed eyelids on a fellow employee isn’t so [...]