Sleep apnea is a well-known problem in the trucking industry but the problems are less well known on the railroads.
That all changed with the December 2013 crash of a Metro North train in the Bronx in New York, with the loss of four lives. The driver in that tragedy had fallen asleep leading the train to derail. He was later diagnosed with sleep apnea, reported FELA Reporter.
A year on Metro North announced that it would screen all of its engineers for sleep apnea. It has selected a health care firm that specializes in sleep disorders to screen all of its locomotive engineers for sleep apnea.
All 410 of Metro North’s engineers and about 20 engineers who are undergoing training will take part in an initial screening for sleep apnea by the railroad’s Occupational Health Services Department based on the best practices in the industry.
FELA Reporter pointed out the locomotive engineers who are recommended for additional screening will be referred to the contractor, Persante Health Care Inc., which will provide test equipment and training for an at-home, overnight sleep test. The test data will be analyzed and, if necessary, employees will be referred to a sleep specialist for additional treatment or testing.
The tragedy in New York makes me wonder to what extent sleepiness on the railroads contributes to accidents and if railroads are taking the threat of sleep apnea seriously enough. Both passengers and railroad workers could be placed at risk by drowsiness on the railroads.
If you have been injured on the railroad, call our experienced railroad/FELA injury lawyers at 866.455.6657 or see CooperHurley.com.