October 31, 2016 / 4:41 PM / a year ago

Canada safety watchdog says action needed on train crew fatigue

MONTREAL, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Too many Canadian train crews are not getting sufficient rest and railroads need to do more to apply fatigue science to scheduling, the country’s transport safety watchdog said on Monday.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada, an independent government agency, singled out rail fatigue in its 2016 watch list, which identifies key safety issues in Canadian transportation. It said it would meet with industry and government representatives as soon as Tuesday to push for concrete action.

“Fatigue has been a factor in numerous railway investigations, most notably regarding freight train operations,” TSB Chairwoman Kathy Fox said in a statement.

“Too many train crews aren’t getting the rest they need, whether it’s shifts that are too long or irregular scheduling that interferes with normal sleep times.”

Fatigue management for Canadian rail employees has been repeatedly raised as a safety concern by the Teamster Canada Rail Conference. The union represents workers at Canadian National Railway Co and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd .

Officials at the union, CN and CP could not immediately be reached for comment.

The TSB chairwoman also said the federal regulator, Transport Canada, had been slow in addressing previous safety guidance from the TSB, noting that 52 recommendations on various issues have been outstanding for 10 years or more.

The TSB said as a result, it will take a more proactive approach with government and industry and report publicly on the results.

“No longer is it enough to point out a problem and wait for others to take notice,” Fox said. (Reporting By Allison Lampert; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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