BLET continues to seek input from members on Human Factors/Circadian Rhythms questionnaire

By Bill Keppen
Former BLE Vice-President

Several weeks ago the BLET published articles on its web site and in the July 2005 newsletter that advised BLET members of an FRA funded project to collect human factor data from locomotive engineers who have experienced cardinal rule violations. The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of FRA's new Human Factor/Circadian Rhythms (HF/CR) Questionnaire for collecting information on root cause factors that result in rule violations and accidents.

We know that the vast majority of cardinal rule violations are the result of performance lapses, not willful decisions to break the rules. What we don't know is if certain factors, such as engineers being called to work unexpectedly, result in cardinal rule violations. If locomotive engineers are willing spend 45 minutes to an hour of their time filling out and returning a HF/CR questionnaire, we may be able to determine if the questionnaire is an effective tool for collecting such data and may be able to help improve safety by identifying and eliminating the root causes of lapses that more frequently result in rule violations, accidents, injuries and even deaths.

This is something those of you that have experienced cardinal rule violations can do to improve safety. Nobody else, not your local chairman, general chairman, or the President of the BLET, can do this for you because nobody else knows the answers to the questions on the factors that may have affected your performance. In spite of strong support for the project by the leadership of the BLET, only three questionnaires have been completed and returned. We need a minimum of 25 questionnaires to determine if the form and the current process, for collecting this type of data, are effective.

The questionnaire, along with a question and answer sheet on the project, are available as PDFs on the BLET web site. Information on how to return completed forms is included and you need not worry about information you share with Keppen Associates because only group data will be reported to FRA.

In 2004, there were more than 900 cardinal rule violations on the Class I railroads and there were almost 1,100 human factor caused train accidents. With your help we can do something about that.


© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen