Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-15-036
Details
Synopsis: On August 7, 2014, about 03:10 a.m. Pacific daylight time, Union Pacific Railroad (UP) local train LUM41-06 traveled into a Ken’s Foods, Inc., warehouse, ran through the end-of-track bumping post, and then collided with the inside wall while switching cars.1 The train consisted of 3locomotives and 14 loaded tank cars. Three Ken’s Foods employees were in the warehouse at the time. Estimated damages were $188,000 and there were no injuries.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: Enhance your medical standards by identifying a list of medical conditions that disqualify employees for safety-sensitive positions because of the conditions’ potential for negatively affecting rail safety.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Unacceptable Response
Mode: Railroad
Location: Arden, NV, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA14FR010
Accident Reports: ​Railroad Accident Brief: Locomotive Engineer Has Seizure While Operating Train
Report #: RAB-15-07
Accident Date: 8/7/2014
Issue Date: 11/3/2015
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FRA (Open - Unacceptable Response)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 2/10/2019
Response: -From Ronald L. Batory, Administrator: FRA has fulfilled the recent requests from NTSB staff and cannot do anything more under law toward achieving this recommendation. Safety Recommendation R-15-36 is essentially a reinstatement of Safety Recommendation R-00-01, which called for FRA- with assistance from experts on the effects of pharmacological agents on human performance and alertness- to establish procedures or criteria by which train operating crewmembers who medically require substances not on the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) list of approved medications may be allowed, when appropriate, to use those medications when performing their duties. Where R-00-01 requested that FRA create a list of approved medications, R-15-36 would require an inverse list of disqualifying medications. The justification in FRA's January 27, 2015, letter regarding R-00-01 is also applicable to Safety Recommendation R-15-36. FRA does not have the authority to maintain a list of medications as described in Safety Recommendation R-15-36; that authority rests with the FDA. In a November 18, 2016, letter to the NTSB, FRA explained this and said that we could take no further action on the recommendation. As of March 1, 2018, after almost 15 months, FRA had not received any response from the NTSB, so we met with NTSB staff to discuss a path to closure. In response to that conversation, FRA has further considered a variety of ways to address the concerns behind the recommendation, given that we do not have the authority (nor would it be advisable) to implement it exactly as recommended. FRA's Web site (www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0345) continues to provide a link to the FDA's Online Label Repository (http://labels.fda.gov), which contains the most recent drug listing information that companies have submitted, including descriptions of medications, warnings, and information on adverse effects and impaired performance. During the March 2018 meeting, NTSB staff suggested that adding "connective tissue" language--a description of how the information from the FDA relates to Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CPR) Part 219, Control of Alcohol and Drug Use--with the link to the FDA Repository should address the concerns. FRA has completed this request. In addition, FRA sent a letter (enclosed) to all relevant stakeholders stating our concern regarding Rx and OTC medications affecting those in safety-sensitive positions. It notes that 49 CFR § 219 .103 does not prohibit railroads from developing rules about the use of Rx and OTC medications, and reminds railroads and employees that FRA requires either a treating physician or a railroad-designated physician to make a fitness-for-work determination concerning all Rx and OTC drug use prior to permitting an employee to return to work in safety sensitive service. This letter was sent to the: • American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association; • Association of American Railroads; • National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association; • Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen; • International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers; • Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees; • Transportation Workers Union. FRA has completed the work addressing all the concerns brought up by NTSB staff at the March 2018 meeting, FRA does not have legal authority to take further action toward this recommendation, nor will FRA take any further action on this recommendation. Therefore, we respectfully ask that NTSB close Safety Recommendation R-15-36.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 9/5/2018
Response: You wrote that you would address other medical conditions once you had addressed sleep apnea, but you have now determined that you will not address OSA with a regulation. Please tell us how you plan to address other medical conditions associated with accidents. Pending action to address these recommendations, Safety Recommendations R-15-35 through -37 are classified OPEN--UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 11/18/2016
Response: -From Sarah E. Feinberg, Administrator: In a January 27, 2015, letter to the NTSB, FRA provided a supplemental response to NTSB Safety Recommendation R-00-01. The recommendation called for FRA to establish, with assistance from experts on the effects of pharmacological agents on human performance and alertness, procedures or criteria by which train operating crewmembers who medically require substances not on the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) list of approved medications may be allowed, when appropriate, to use those medications when performing their duties. FRA informed the NTSB that it would not take any further action to address the recommendation, citing that DOT did not intend to create a list, and DOT's position that the creation of such a list was not only impracticable, but potentially harmful to transportation safety. FRA believes the justification stated in the January 27, 2015, letter is applicable to Safety Recommendation R-15-36. Safety Recommendation R -00-01 requested FRA to create a list of approved medications. Conversely, Safety Recommendation R-15-36 would require another list involving disqualifying medications. FRA believes a list of these medications is best maintained by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has the appropriate expertise in the use, safety, proper dosage, and potential adverse effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications. FDA has its Online Label Repository (http://labels.fda.gov) where the most recent drug listing information, companies have submitted, is made available to the public. The repository contains descriptions of medications, warnings, and information on adverse effects and impaired performance. The repository can also be accessed from FRA's Web site at http://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0345. Because FDA maintains this list, FRA does not intend to take any further action on this recommendation.

From: FRA
To: NTSB
Date: 2/4/2016
Response: -Robert C. Lauby, Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety, Federal Railroad Administration: Thank you for your November 3, 2015, letter to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regarding the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) Safety Recommendations R-15-35 through R-15-37. FRA understands that the NTSB issued these recommendations as a result of the NTSB's investigation of an accident in which Union Pacific Railroad's local Train LUM41-06 traveled into a Ken's Foods' warehouse, ran through the end-of-track bumping post, and subsequently collided with the inside wall while switching cars in Arden, Nevada, on August 7, 2014. Title 49 U.S.C. Section 1135 states, "the Secretary [of Transportation] shall give to the [NTSB] a formal written response to each recommendation not later than 90 days after receiving the recommendation." This letter acknowledges receipt of these recommendations to FRA. FRA staff is currently gathering information and conducting research to enable FRA to more fully address these recommendations. FRA takes these recommendations very seriously and assures the NTSB that a complete and thorough investigation will be reflected in its final response.

From: NTSB
To: FRA
Date: 11/3/2015
Response: On October 28, 2015,the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) adopted its report concerning the August 7, 2014,accident in which Union Pacific Railroad local train LUM41-06 traveled into a Ken’s Foods, Inc., warehouse, ran through the end-of-track bumping post, and then collided with the inside wall while switching cars.1 Additional information about this accident and the resulting recommendations may be found in the report of the investigation, which can be accessed at our website, http://www.ntsb.gov,under report number RAB-15/07. 1 National Transportation Safety Board, Locomotive Engineer Has Seizure While Operating Train, Arden, As a result of this investigation, we issued five new recommendations, including two to Union Pacific Railroad and the following three recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration: R-15-35 Enhance your medical standards by identifying a list of medical conditions that disqualify employees for safety-sensitive positions because of the conditions’ potential for negatively affecting rail safety. R-15-36 Enhance your medical standards by identifying a list of medications whose use disqualifies employees for safety-sensitive positions because of the medications’ potential for negatively affecting rail safety. R-15-37 Once disqualifying medical conditions and medications have been identified, develop specific criteria (such as standards for medical test results) that may allow employees who have been disqualified but have been determined by a subsequent, individualized assessment to pose no increased danger to rail safety to obtain a medical certification. We also reiterated one previously issued recommendation to the Federal Railroad Administration: R-13-21 Develop medical certification regulations for employees in safety-sensitive positions that include, at a minimum, (1) a complete medical history that includes specific screening for sleep disorders, a review of current medications, and a thorough physical examination; (2) standardization of testing protocols across the industry; and (3) centralized oversight of certification decisions for employees who fail initial testing; and consider requiring that medical examinations be performed by those with specific training and certification in evaluating medication use and health issues related to occupational safety on railroads. Chairman HART, Vice Chairman DINH-ZARR, and Members SUMWALT and WEENER concurred in these recommendations. The NTSB is vitally interested in these recommendations because they are designed to prevent accidents and save lives. We would appreciate receiving a response from you within 90days detailing the actions you have taken or intend to take to implement them. When replying, please refer to the safety recommendations by number. We encourage you to submit your response electronically to correspondence@ntsb.gov.