Hours of Service survey coming soon

Goal is to reduce fatigue, improve scheduling; Membership input needed

Train and engine service employees will get a chance this spring to help their union and the Federal Railroad Administration better understand their work schedule-related fatigue issues. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the United Transportation Union are cooperating with the FRA in this project.

"We need to develop a better understanding of the work/rest schedules and sleep patterns of operating crews and to evaluate the relationship between these schedules and fatigue," says BLET National President Don Hahs. "Once we have data that allows us to identify fatigue-related problems specific to operating crafts, we will be able to work toward reducing the risk of fatigue-related accidents and incidents and improving the quality of life for our members."

According to Grady Cothen, the Federal Railroad Administration's Deputy Associate Administrator for Safety, "A great deal has been learned about the effects fatigue has on human performance. However, when it comes to the railroad industry, more research is needed since only minimal data exists regarding work/rest habits of railroad employees.

"At the FRA, we believe effective safety programs must be based on facts," Cothen added. "By cataloging the work/rest histories of train and engine service employees across the nation, the BLET and the UTU are helping to provide that critical data. No doubt this study will allow us a greater understanding of the impact fatigue has among operating crews and help point the way for future fatigue reduction strategies."

The independent study, sponsored by FRA and conducted by Foster-Miller, Inc. of Waltham, MA, will ask about 800 union members countrywide, who will be randomly selected from both unions' databases, to fill out work/sleep diaries for two weeks. Participants will receive a small diary in the mail where they will record their work and sleep times and note how well they slept and how alert they feel each day. They will also be asked to fill out a companion background survey. Those who complete and submit their diaries and questionnaires to Foster-Miller will receive a $75 gift certificate as thanks for participating in the survey.

Mailing of the surveys to the members selected to participate will begin shortly after the change from standard time to daylight savings time on March 9th. Results from the completed study will be reported to the BLET, the UTU, and the FRA only as a whole, not individually. Foster-Miller will delete the names of all participants once the data has been compiled and participants have received their gift certificates.

The diary asks participants to record when they slept. It also asks participants to rate how easy it was to fall asleep, how easy it was to get up, and how well they slept. It also asks participants to include any naps they take.

It also asks participants to record how they are feeling during the work day. How do you feel when you report for work? Do you feel sleepy when you finish your work? How long did you work? Was there any limbo time or period of interim release in addition to regular work?

The overall purpose of the study is to develop a better understanding of work/rest schedules and sleep patterns of train and engine service employees and to look at the relationship between these schedules and how alert or sleepy people are feeling.

Results of the survey will be published next year in the Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen News.

 

 

© 2008 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen