FRA, rail industry fights electronic device distraction

Posted on November 21, 2012

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Administrator Joseph C. Szabo joined senior railroad industry leaders and labor officials to launch a collaborative effort to educate and raise awareness among rail industry employees of the dangers of using electronic devices on the job.

The kickoff event to highlight the dangers of distraction was held at Union Pacific Railroad's Proviso Yard, as Union Pacific is among the first rail carriers nationally to adopt a peer-to-peer program to eliminate electronic device distractions. Representatives from several labor organizations and rail companies also took part in the event.

Administrator Szabo encouraged rail companies to adopt anti-distraction programs and challenged all railroad employees to make the improper use of such devices while on the job socially unacceptable.

“Distraction can impact anyone, whether they're driving a car or working in a railroad environment, and the consequences can be equally serious and even deadly,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Ending distraction will take everyone's help, and I appreciate leaders in the railroad industry and labor joining us in this important safety effort.”

The event marks the launch of a collaborative outreach effort to encourage the establishment of peer-to-peer programs that raise awareness among all railroad employees of the dangers of distraction. Railroad employees who improperly use electronic devices while on the job violate both federal regulations and railroad operating rules, while endangering themselves and possibly their coworkers, railroad passengers, and those who live and work along rail lines.

“I have spent my entire career in the railroad industry, and I know firsthand how distractions can lead to danger,” said Szabo. “That's why I'm calling on all rail industry employees to adopt a zero-tolerance position on using electronic devices while working, building an even stronger safety culture where workers can confidently depend on one another to keep everyone safe.”

In October 2008, FRA issued an Emergency Order to prohibit the use of electronic devices by railroad operating employees. The Emergency Order was codified by FRA as a regulation, which includes all railroad employees, in September 2010.

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