U.S. DOT announces proposal to require railroads to train, qualify employees in safety-related positions on federal railroad safety law, regulations and orders

WASHINGTON , February 10, 2012 (press release) – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced a proposal to require railroads to train and qualify employees in safety-related positions on federal railroad safety laws, regulations and orders.

“Safety is our highest priority and we will continue to work to create a safer operating environment for employees, passengers and communities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We have made dramatic progress in improving safety, but there is always more we can do to reduce incidents.”

The proposed rule would require each railroad or contractor with safety-related railroad employees to develop a training program designating the qualifications of each employee and then submit that program for Federal Railroad Administration approval. Employers would conduct periodic oversight of their own employees to determine compliance and conduct annual written reviews of their training programs to close performance gaps. The proposed rule is a requirement of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

“Well-designed training programs have the potential to further reduce risk in the railroad environment,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “We believe that better training can reduce the number of accidents, particularly those caused by human factors, which account for the vast majority of reportable accidents each year.”

Under the Federal Railroad Administration Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), training would apply to relevant railroad rules and procedures used to implement those federal railroad safety laws.

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