New fatigue countermeasures established in Canada

In a major step to eliminate fatigue-related accidents in the railway industry, the Canadian government has approved new work/rest guidelines for rail operating employees.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers played a leading role in the development of the new fatigue countermeasures, which were approved by Canada's Minister of Transport David Collenette on June 18.

BLE Vice-President & National Legislative Representative-Canada George Hucker said, "The new rule enhances the principles that were provided from the Canalert Project and give us clear guidelines for fatigue management in the railway industry."

The new rules, which will become effective April 1, 2003, will apply to 28 federally regulated railways. The rules generally set a maximum of 12 hours of work for a single shift but allow an employee to work more than one shift per day, up to a maximum of 18 hours in total (for example, the 18 hours cannot be worked continuously, and a rest break must be taken prior to commencing a second shift). A cap of 64 hours per week has also been established, but may be exceeded under certain conditions. Previously, no explicit weekly cap existed.

"It feels good to finally have a new start to work/rest in Canada for the locomotive engineers," Vice-President Hucker said "Brother Don Anderson was on the drafting committee since its inception and saw the project to its completion. We all owe him a great deal of gratitude."

Brother Anderson, Provincial Legislative Board Chairman for Alberta, was the BLE's representative on the working group that drafted the new rule.

"The new rule closes up the previous rule and gives a much clearer interpretation of some of the areas that have caused us problems in the past," Brother Anderson said.

The rules will effect the U.S.-based locomotive engineers as they come into Canada, Brother Hucker said. If their final destination is a Canadian terminal, then the entire Work/Rest provisions will apply. The new rules also:

The railways and the unions must formulate fatigue management plans that have to be filed with Transport Canada by Jan. 31, 2003

Specific fatigue management plans must be filed with Transport Canada by Feb. 14, 2003.

The Minister retains the right to require changes to the new rules before they come into effect, should any new information on fatigue in the rail sector indicate the need for such changes.

Transport Canada will begin enforcement of the new rules on April 1, 2003. The department will closely monitor industry compliance with the rules and will make appropriate adjustments based on new research or emerging safety issues.

Since the new rules were filed by the RAC on behalf of its member railways, those other federally regulated railways that are not members of the RAC will be ordered to file similar rules covering their respective operations.

The 28 railway companies party to the work/rest rules are: Agence Métropolitaine de Transport; Algoma Central Railway; Arnaud Railway; Burlington Northern (Manitoba) Ltd.; Canadian National Railways; Canadian Pacific Railway; Chermin de fer de Ia Matapédia et du Golfe; Devco Railway; CSX Transportation; ECORAIL Inc.; Ferroequus Railway Company Limited; Great Canadian Railtour Co. Ltd.; Norfolk Southern; National Railroad Passenger Corporation; Ontario Northland Transportation Commission; Ottawa Central Railway; Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway Company; RailLink Canada Limited; St. Lawrence and Atlantic; Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Company; Essex Terminal Railway Company; Greater Toronto Transit Authority; Toronto Terminals Railway Company Limited; VIA Rail Canada Inc.; Wabush Lake Railway Co.; West Coast Express; White Pass & Yukon Route; and Wisconsin Central. ·


© 2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers