Wednesday, October 1, 2014

New Drug and Alcohol Regulations for Railroad Maintenance Workers Delayed
September 30th, 2014/

The Federal Railroad Administration (FDA) has delayed implementing new alcohol and drug regulations for railroad maintenance workers. It is extending the comment period at the request of industry groups, The Hill reports.

Some railroad employees, including engineers, conductors and dispatchers, have long been subject to drug and alcohol regulations. The new rules would expand to include track workers, the article notes. Under the regulations, track workers would be subject to random drug testing. They could be tested before employment, after accidents or in cases in which there is reasonable suspicion of drug use.

“(Track workers) directly affect the safety of railroad operations, because they work on or near railroad tracks, operate on-track or fouling equipment and assist in directing trains through work areas,” the agency wrote.

The delay was requested by American Public Transportation Association, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, the Association of American Railroads and the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association. The public comment period has been extended to November 25.

In 2012, a report by the Amtrak Inspector’s office found a growing number of Amtrak employees were testing positive for drugs and alcohol, increasing the risk of a serious railroad accident. The report stated that drug and alcohol use by conductors, mechanics and engineers who operate the trains greatly exceeds the national average for the railroad industry. Amtrak’s signal operators and mechanics tested positive for drugs four times as frequently as those working for other railroads. Cocaine and marijuana are the most frequently used drugs.

The report recommended that Amtrak test a larger percentage of its workers and expand its program for physical observation.

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