Testing Rules to Cover Rail Maintenance of Way Workers

"These new rules add another layer of protection for workers who work along and near railroad tracks and will help us reduce preventable worker injuries and fatalities," said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg.

Beginning next year, U.S. railroad maintenance of way employees will for the first time be covered by the Federal Railroad Administration's mandatory alcohol and drug testing regulations. FRA announced that change earlier this year along with a second final rule that amends the existing Roadway Worker Protection regulation. The alcohol and drug rule fulfills a requirement of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

"Clear communication, multiple layers of safety, and a rigorous alcohol and drug testing policy are critical to keep workers along and near tracks—and ultimately passengers and train crews—out of harm's way," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said when they were issued. "These are common-sense rules that will help make our railroads safer."

The Roadway Worker Protection final rule amendments will resolve different interpretations that have emerged since the rule went into effect nearly 20 years ago; implement the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee's recommendations; codify certain FRA Technical Bulletins and a FAST Act mandate by adopting new requirements governing redundant signal protections; address the safe movement of roadway maintenance machinery over signalized non-controlled track but not under a dispatcher's control; and amend certain qualification requirements for roadway workers. This rule will take effect April 1, 2017.

"These new rules add another layer of protection for workers who work along and near railroad tracks and will help us reduce preventable worker injuries and fatalities," said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg.

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