Job Safety

February 19, 2007

Pointing Fingers at Fatigue

The tragic finger pointing going on here cannot obscure the fact that fatigue more than any other factor caused this accident. Management has an obligation to speak up when crew error is involved and unions need to take responsibility for the action and mistakes of their members. At the same time, the unions are correct about
the hidden issue of fatigue cause by excessive hours.

Here is the summary report:

Safety of Workers and the Public at Risk

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A Teamsters Rail
Conference official told the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and
Hazardous Materials today that worker fatigue is a significant safety
threat to rail workers and the public.
“There is no question in our minds that safety degradation because of
fatigue is a ticking time bomb in the rail industry,” said Tom Pontolillo,
Director of Regulatory Affairs of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers
and Trainmen (BLET), which is part of the Teamsters Rail Conference. “The
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has on numerous occasions
pointed to crew fatigue as a potential contributing factor in an accident.”
Last year the NTSB adopted a report determining that the 2004 Macdona,
Texas, collision and toxic chlorine release, which killed three people, was
caused by a fatigued locomotive crew’s failure to respond to wayside
signals. The crew was criticized by the NTSB for failing to effectively use
off-duty time, thereby not obtaining sufficient restorative rest prior to
reporting for duty and Union Pacific was criticized for train crew
scheduling practices that created inverted crew members’ work and rest
patterns.