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DOT proposes new minimum training standards for Railroad Workers & Contractors under Federal Railroad Administration

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jun 19, 2012 1:09:49 AM

On February 7, 2012, The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published in the Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding training and qualifications in federal rail safety laws, regulations and orders.  Train and engine workers, those who inspect and repair freight trains, passenger cars and locomotives, and other “safety sensitive” workers will be affected by the proposed new training programs.

The FRA is seeking training protocols from each railroad (and their contractors) to provide for uniformity in training, and programs that would more clearly define the qualifications of every employee involved in rail safety. Workers would be required to effectively show proficiency in a specific area of expertise, before being trained in more detailed or complicated tasks. Diligent oversight will be encouraged by employers to manage compliance and written reviews would be submitted regarding their training programs and their efficacy in enhanced safety.

Already a requirement of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, this proposed enhanced rule was developed with the input from officials in numerous federal and state government agencies, industry and labor.  The new training and reporting requirements are seeking to enhance worker safety, close knowledge gaps, and better prepare workers for the very real hazards associated with working for a railroad.

“Well-designed training programs have the potential to further reduce risk in the railroad environment,” said FRA Administrator Joe Szabo. “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.”  Experts who seek to raise safety standards and training protocols state that railroads have sought to reduce training costs by offering unsupervised computer-based training, which is not sufficient training before a worker is sent out into the field.

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Topics: Emilcott, General Industry H&S, Construction H&S, federal rail safety laws, Federal Railroad Administration, regulations and orders, H&S Training, FRA, uniformity in training, Rail Safety Improvement Act

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