File photo by THE CANADIAN RPESS Transport Minister Marc Garneau is bearing down on fatigue on the tracks, ordering railway companies to update rules around work-rest periods.

Transport minister orders new fatigue rules amidst oil-by-rail ramp-up

Transport Minister Marc Garneau has ordered rail companies to update rules to address employee fatigue.

Requirements on work-rest periods for rail workers, introduced in 2002 with only minor revisions since then, should reflect the latest science and fatigue management practices, Garneau said.

“We now have a better understanding of the extent to which fatigue can affect human performance and ultimately compromise railway safety. We need to make changes now,” Garneau said in a release.

The new rules should address issues such as shift length, minimum rest periods and advance notice for work schedules, he said.

Transportation crews often work long and irregular hours, frequently in multiple time zones and challenging conditions, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada said in a report last fall.

The order comes amidst an ongoing ramp-up in crude oil transport by rail and follows Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s pledge to buy new oil tanker cars that could eventually move an additional 120,000 barrels a day in response to a lack of pipeline capacity.

The TSB has cited sleep-related fatigue as a factor in 31 freight train collisions or derailments since 1994, including the Lac-Megantic tragedy in July 2013 when an oil train explosion killed 47 people.

Since then, the amount of crude shipped by rail has shot up more than 140 per cent to a record 327,229 barrels a day in October 2018, with particularly steep increases over the past nine months.

The railways, in consultation with unions, must submit rules to Transport Canada by May 19 for approval by the end of June.

“Teamsters are encouraged to see the government announce plans to eventually tackle the issue of fatigue,” Teamsters Canada spokesman Christopher Monette said in an email.

“To be clear, nothing Transport Canada announced today has an immediate effect on rail safety or our members’ lives. We look forward to see what rules they eventually come up with.”

Managing worker exhaustion in the rail industry has been on the TSB’s list of key concerns since 2016 but the worry has now been extended to include marine and air operations.

TSB chairwoman Kathy Fox has said that Transport Canada, operators, unions, and employees all need to work together to prevent and manage exhaustion at work, which it identified as a risk or contributing factor in more than 90 investigations in the rail, marine and air transportation sectors since 1992.

oil-by-rail

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce announces business of the year winners

All finalists ‘displayed courage’ this year, says chamber CEO

More than 400 COVID-19 cases reported in Alberta Wednesday, according to multiple reports. (File photo)
Over 400 additional COVID-19 cases Wednesday

3,372 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta

A 47-megawatt solar power project has been proposed for a site southwest of the Nova Chemicals petrochemical complex.
Map contributed
$52-million solar power project proposed for Joffre

Project to be built southwest of Nova Chemicals plant could be producing power by the end of 2021

AnnaMarie Lea, artistic director of Lacombe’s Cow Patti Theatre, thinks a lot of people would love to focus on something other than the pandemic, with a few hours of entertainment. (Contributed photo).
Some Red Deer-area shows will go on — with new pandemic precautions

Some theatrical productions are happening under new rules

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer will be at the legislature Thursday to urge members of the UCP caucus to drop the plan to consolidate EMS dispatch by Jan. 4. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Red Deer mayor takes EMS consolidation fight to Edmonton

Mayors of Red Deer, Lethbridge, Calgary and Wood Buffalo to address UCP caucus on Thursday

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.	Kenney is isolating at home after one of his ministers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta premier isolating after minister tests positive for COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is isolating at home

Tampa Bay Rays' Brandon Lowe rounds the bases after a home run off Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Tony Gonsolin during the first inning in Game 2 of the baseball World Series Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Lowe homers twice, Rays hold off Dodgers 6-4 to even Series

Lowe homers twice, Rays hold off Dodgers 6-4 to even Series

Mighty Heart is held outside trainer Josie Carroll's stable by exercise rider Des McMahon, as the colt is washed down after being breezed at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto on October 15, 2020. Mighty Heart will make his Triple Crown quest from the the No. 8 post Saturday. The Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales champion was named the even-money favourite in the draw Wednesday for the $400,000 Breeders' Stakes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Mighty Heart to take run at ending Triple Crown drought in $400,000 Breeders Stakes

Mighty Heart to take run at ending Triple Crown drought in $400,000 Breeders Stakes

Toronto Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro watches during baseball spring training in Dunedin, Fla., on Friday, February 24, 2017/ Short on specifics and long on bullishness, Shapiro set an optimistic tone during his first general media availability since the team was eliminated from the post-season a few weeks ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro short on specifics, long on bullishness

Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro short on specifics, long on bullishness

Liverpool's Fabinho, saves from the goal line after a header from Ajax's captain Dusan Tadic from scoring during the group D Champions League soccer match between Ajax and Liverpool at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Real Madrid beaten again, Bayern surges in Champions League

Real Madrid beaten again, Bayern surges in Champions League

Toronto Wolfpack captain Josh McCrone raises the Betfred Championship Trophy alongside teammates after defeating the Featherstone Rovers in the Million Pound Game in Betfred Championship rugby league action in Toronto on October 5, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Financially troubled Toronto Wolfpack could learn fate soon as early as next week

Financially troubled Toronto Wolfpack could learn fate soon as early as next week

Kansas City Chiefs' Demarcus Robinson (11) holds off Buffalo Bills' Tre'Davious White (27) as Bills' Justin Zimmer (61) also pursues during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
Bills defence looks to rebound after consecutive losses

Bills defence looks to rebound after consecutive losses

CPL champion Forge FC ready for CONCACAF League opener in El Salvador

CPL champion Forge FC ready for CONCACAF League opener in El Salvador

Most Read