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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-83-028
Details
Synopsis: THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD HAS LONG BEEN CONCERNED ABOUT THE ROLE OF ALCOHOL AND DRUGS IN RAILROAD ACCIDENTS. RECENT RAILROAD ACCIDENTS INVOLVING ALCOHOL/DRUG ABUSE HAVE HEIGHTENED ITS CONCERN. IN 18 CASES INVESTIGATED OR UNDER INVESTIGATION BY THE SAFETY BOARD IN WHICH ALCOHOL AND DRUG USE WAS INVOLVED, 25 RAILROAD EMPLOYEES WERE KILLED, 13 EMPLOYEES WERE INJURED, AND PROPERTY DAMAGE WAS REPORTEDLY IN EXCESS OF $25 MILLION. OF PARAMOUNT CONCERN TO THE SAFETY BOARD IS THE PROTECTION OF THE PUBLIC AND RAILROAD EMPLOYEES WHO ARE PLACED IN LIFE-THREATENING SITUATIONS BY RAILROAD EMPLOYEES WHO MAY BE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL AND/OR DRUGS.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN RAILROADS: IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE RAILWAY LABOR EXECUTIVES ASSOCIATION, ASSIST THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION IN DEVELOPING A REQUIREMENT THAT TIMELY TOXICOLOGICAL TESTS ARE PERFORMED ON ALL OPERATING EMPLOYEES INVOLVED IN A RAILROAD ACCIDENT WHICH INVOLVES A FATALITY, A PASSENGER TRAIN, RELEASES OF HAZARDOUS MATERIALS, AN INJURY, OR SUBSTANTIAL PROPERTY DAMAGE.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Livingston, LA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA82AR016
Accident Reports: Derailment of Illinois Central Gulf Railroad Freight Train Extra 9629 East (GS-2-28) and Release of Hazardous Materials
Report #: RAR-83-05
Accident Date: 9/28/1982
Issue Date: 3/7/1983
Date Closed: 8/21/1986
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Association of American Railroads (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Hazmat

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: Association of American Railroads
Date: 8/21/1986
Response: On March 11, 1983, the AAR responded to the Board's recommendations and noted that, at that time, the subject of alcohol abuse had been discussed at several meetings involving the senior officers of the carriers and the employee unions. While the Board had also discussed this issue with the AAR in a subsequent meeting, we have never formally responded to the March 11, 1983, letter, or AAR's intent to follow through with Board's recommendations. Since the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) alcohol rules are now in effect and the AAR had in essence supported these rules, as documented in comments to the FRA's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding this issue, the Safety Board for the record has placed Safety Recommendations R-83-28 and -29 in a "Closed-Acceptable Action" status.

From: Association of American Railroads
To: NTSB
Date: 3/11/1983
Response: I have received and read with keen interest your letter of March 7, 1983, regarding the involvement of alcohol and drugs in railroad accidents. You may be assured that the managements of the railroads share your concern, and I am confident that the leaders of the railroad unions are of the same mind. Your address to the Safety Officers in Pittsburgh last June, which received a great deal of publicity, brought to a great number of persons an estimate of the possible dimensions of the problem and a need for various interests to join together in the development of programs by which the problem could be reduced, if not eliminated. I know that you are not unaware of the position of the managements with respect to this subject. Every railroad has an operating rule prohibiting the consumption of alcohol or narcotics when on or when subject to duty. This rule is not treated cavalierly, and the number of employees discharged each year under provisions of this rule is, unfortunately, fairly large. At the same time, most of the railroads have implemented, at substantial expense, employee assistance programs to provide help to those who desire to shed an alcohol or drug habit. The cooperation provided the FRA contractor who conducted the survey of drinking practices of employees, referred to in your letter, should demonstrate the attitude of the companies. You have recommended that the AAR, in conjunction with the RLEA., should assist the Federal Railroad Administration in developing a requirement for timely toxicological tests to be performed on operating employees involved in certain types of railroad accidents, and another which would require reports of alcohol/drug involvement in accidents and incidents to permit the enhancement of the data base. During the past several months, senior officers of the carriers and the employee unions have met on several occasions to discuss this specific subject of alcohol abuse. While it was not possible to reach agreement on the use of specific testing devices, a certification procedure modeled on the Southern Pacific program has been submitted to Mr. Blanchette for consideration. Should you wish to discuss this subject at greater length. I would be willing to meet with you at your convenience.