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Freight Railroad Safety: Hours of Service Changes Have Increased Rest Time, but More Can Be Done to Address Fatigue Risks

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA) overhauled requirements for how much time certain freight railroad workers can spend on the job (called "hours of service"). Changes included limiting the number of consecutive days on duty before rest is required, increasing minimum rest time from 8 to 10 hours, and requiring rest time to be undisturbed. RSIA also provided for pilot projects and waivers. RSIA's changes became effective for freight railroads in July 2009. GAO was asked to assess (1) the impact of these changes on covered train and engine (T&E) employees, including implications for fatigue, (2) the impact of the changes on the rail industry, and (3) actions the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has taken to oversee compliance with hours of service requirements and implement RSIA provisions for pilot projects and waivers. To perform this work, GAO analyzed covered employee work schedules and used models to assess fatigue, surveyed the railroad industry, analyzed FRA inspection and enforcement data, and interviewed federal and railroad officials as well as fatigue and sleep experts."
Date: September 28, 2011
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department