Locomotive Cab Conditions:
The “Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commissions
Act of 2007,” designed to provide more safety and security on our nations
transit systems, did make some improvements for the rail industry; however, the
death of a
The High Alert 2 rail security report was the second such report by the Teamsters, both of which are the result of studies conducted by the Teamster Rail Conference to gain insight from rail workers into the actual safety and security issues faced by those employees on a day-to-day basis. The High Alert 2 Rail Security Report can be viewed at: http://www.ble-t.org/pr/pdf/ highalert2complete.pdf.
The BLET and the UTU have called on
the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to improve locomotive cab security
and establish climate control regulations in locomotive cabs. In their joint
comments filed on
In their comments about locomotive cab temperatures, the unions explained the negative effect of extreme heat as it causes fatigue and lethargy, slows reaction time, and therefore diminishes safety. They argued that the rule should require newly purchased or reconstructed locomotives, as well as those locomotives already equipped with air conditioning, to be capable of maintaining a climate between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. With regard to cab security, the unions pointed out that the lack of air conditioning in hot weather causes crews to choose between their safety and their security. Crews must be able to close, lock, and seal the doors and windows of the cab in order to protect themselves from the risk of invasion of the operating compartment by unauthorized persons.
Section 405 of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 authorized studies of the locomotive cab environment and empowered the FRA to regulate on this issue based on its findings. On March 17, 2011, BLET National President Dennis Pierce testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroad, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials at a hearing on “Federal Regulatory Overreach in the Railroad Industry: Implementing the Rail Safety Improvement Act.” In that testimony, President Pierce explained to the Committee the relationship of cab temperatures and cab security that occurs when crews are assigned to a locomotive with no functioning air conditioning. President Pierce pointed out that the FRA is considering establishing an upper temperature limit in locomotive cabs and that “the carriers continue to resist movement on this important health and safety issue.”
With regard to the issue of locomotive seats, the BLET and UTU have expressed their extreme disappointment to the FRA for not including anything about locomotive seats in their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Locomotive Safety Standards. The unions pointed out that “improper and unsafe seats and seat securements have caused many injuries and illnesses to operating crews” and asked the FRA to “accept the scientific facts and offer requirements for specifications of locomotive seats on occupied locomotives.”