April 1, 2014

FRA releases critical incident plan rule

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced a new Final Rule (FR) requiring each Class I, intercity passenger, and commuter railroad to establish and implement a critical incident stress plan for employees who are directly involved in, witness or respond to a critical incident.

The rulemaking responds to the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 mandate that the Secretary of Transportation establish regulations to define “critical incident” and to require certain railroads to develop and implement critical incident stress plans.

Under the provisions of the rule, railroads would be required to develop, and submit to the Secretary for approval, critical incident stress plans that provide for appropriate support services to be offered to their employees who are affected by a “critical incident.” The rule defines a “critical incident” as either an accident/incident reportable to FRA under 49 CFR part 225 that results in a fatality, loss of limb or a similarly serious bodily injury; or a catastrophic accident/incident reportable to FRA under part 225 that could be reasonably expected to impair a directly-involved employee's ability to perform his or her job duties safely.

To view the FR, click here.

Additionally, the FRA unveiled a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) intended to improve the integrity of passenger train exterior side door safety systems.

The proposed rule would create new safety standards that would help decrease accidents and improve the safe operation and use of passenger train exterior side doors.

Some of the proposed requirements include equipping new passenger cars that have powered side doors with an obstruction detection system and a bypass feature that allows a train engineer to manually override the door safety system;  connecting new passenger cars that have either manual or powered exterior side doors to a door summary circuit that informs the controlling cab of the status of the doors to prohibit the train from developing tractive power if any of the exterior side doors are open; and safety briefings for train crews to identify crewmember responsibilities as they relate to the safe operation of the exterior side doors. 

The proposed rule is based on recommendations developed by the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee’s General Passenger Safety Task Force and includes new requirements for both powered and manual exterior side doors and door safety systems on passenger trains. In addition, the rule proposes to incorporate American Public Transportation Association standards.

To submit comments on the NPRM, click here.

 

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