New FRA proposed rule targets hearing loss in train cres

A new rule proposed by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) seeks to prevent hearing loss by railroad employees who spend most of their working hours inside the cab of a locomotive.

The FRA entered the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) into the Federal Register on June 23. The new rule would reduce unnecessary noise exposure and potential hearing loss of locomotive engineers and trainmen.

It modifies current noise level standards, which were established in 1980, and also sets out additional requirements.

The new rule would require railroads to conduct noise monitoring and to implement a hearing conservation program for railroad operating employees whose noise exposure equals or exceeds an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels.

The proposed changes would require manufacturers to design and build locomotives with quieter cabs and for railroads to maintain them to new standards. Noise reduction features such as better insulation, relocation of air brake exhaust piping, and less vibration from cab equipment already are being incorporated into newer locomotives. The rule supports these and other methods to reduce interior cab noise to the proposed lower levels.

In addition, the rule would require train crews to use hearing protection and railroads to provide training in hearing loss prevention, implement hearing conservation programs and conduct regular noise monitoring.

FRA expects that this proposed rule will reduce the likelihood of noise-induced hearing loss for railroad operating employees.

Now that the NPRM has been published in the Federal Register, there is a 90-day comment period. Written comments must be received by September 21, 2004. This can be done online at: The DOT DMS Docket Number is FRA-2002-12357.

The 90-day comment period will be followed by a meeting of the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC). RSAC will review those comments before the Final Rule is published. FRA established RSAC in 1996 to develop new regulatory standards through a collaborative process with all segments of the rail community. It includes labor, management, the federal government, shippers, suppliers and other interested parties.

The complete rule is available at


© 2004 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen