Pallone Sends Letters Urging Trump Administration to Allow Testing for Sleep Apnea for Mass Transit Workers

Aug 28, 2017

Long Branch, NJ –Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) sent letters to the Acting Administrator for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA), expressing disappointment that the agencies failed to move forward with rulemaking that would allow testing and treatment for sleep apnea for mass transit workers. According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep apnea affects more than 18 million Americans. The disorder is especially dangerous for truck drivers and railroad engineers who must be alert at all times.

Representatives Donald Payne (NJ-10), Bill Pascrell (NJ-09), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) joined Pallone in signing the letters.

The text of the letter is below:

 

August 25, 2017

 

Heath Hall

Acting Administrator

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)

1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE

Washington, DC 20590

Dear Administrator Hall,

 

We write to express our disappointment with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) joint decision to not move forward with the March 10th, 2016 sleep apnea advance notice of proposed rulemaking (81 FR 12642). It is our belief that public safety must remain a top priority, and testing transit employees specifically for sleep apnea can prevent dangerous accidents. We ask that you reconsider your decision.

The prevalence of moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) among workers in sensitive highway and rail transportation jobs is a public safety concern. Sleep apnea has been the tragic cause of large accidents in New Jersey and New York. In December 2013, a Metro-North Railroad train derailed, where four people lost their lives and an additional 61 were injured. The National Transportation Safety Board investigated the incident and concluded the train’s engineer had undiagnosed sleep apnea and was not adequately screened for the disorder. A similar incident occurred September 2016, when a NJ Transit train operated by another engineer with undiagnosed sleep apnea crashed in the Hoboken Train station and left one person dead, 114 injured, and caused substantial infrastructure damage to the station.

Our constituents expect and deserve their roads and railways to be safe.  An FRA and FMCSA rulemaking must move forward and ensure passenger safety by requiring reasonable testing and treatment for sleep apnea for mass transit workers.

We once again urge you to reconsider the withdrawal of proposed rulemaking, and ask that you consider moving forward to strengthen existing fatigue-management plans in an effort to ultimately reduce and eliminate preventable accidents and deaths.

Sincerely,

 

 

FRANK PALLONE, JR.

Member of Congress

 

BILL PASCRELL, JR.

Member of Congress

 

 

BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN

Member of Congress

 

DONALD M. PAYNE, JR

Member of Congress