I am pleased to advise you that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has developed and made available an on-line instructional course for the transit industry entitled "Fatigue and Sleep Apnea Awareness for Transit Employees."
This 30-minute course was developed by FTA in conjunction with the Transportation Safety Institute. It is an excellent tool to educate, inform and increase awareness of fatigue and sleep apnea among all transit workers. The course was designed to enhance awareness by identifying the risks posed by sleep disorders, describe indicators and symptoms for such disorders, as well as provide an available means of detection and treatment. By offering tools such as this on-line instructional tool, agencies can augment their current programs and increase awareness.
In December 2009, the Obama Administration began seeking safety oversight authority for FTA to establish and enforce common-sense Federal safety standards for transit. In July 20 1 2, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act authorized FTA to create a new system of Federal safety oversight and to establish basic national minimum safety standards to oversee the safety of public transportation throughout the United States.
Together with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), FTA has identified fatigue and undiagnosed sleep apnea as a high-risk vulnerability for transit operators, and as an element of probable cause for numerous transit accidents. The NTSB has issued recommendations to both the FTA and individual transit agencies on this topic. As a result, I strongly encourage you to do the following:
- use the information contained in this course and integrate it into your ongoing fatigue awareness program or existing employee safety and training curriculum;
- disseminate this guidance to transit property physicians or contract physicians who conduct medical screening regarding the identification and treatment of individuals for obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) continues to support cross-modal fatigue and sleep apnea awareness initiatives. Here are a few examples: The Federal Railroad Administration has developed a screening tool for train crews to better understand sleep and its related disorders, as well as, published a final rule in August 201 2 to limit the number of consecutive hours passenger railroad workers can be on the job. Al so, the Federal Highway Administration is working with States to construct safety edges on America's roadsides.
Across DOT's operating administrations, we are taking a vigilant approach to safety and fatigue, in particular.
Safety remains our highest priority at FTA and throughout the US DOT. Our industry needs to continue building a strong safety culture which is built on increasing awareness among all transit employees. Please join me in keeping public transit as one of the safest transportation choices for the American people by continuing to educate our workforce on this very important issue.
Information on how to register for the on-line course is available on the FTA website here. Thank you for taking this matter seriously and for making safety your highest priority.