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

From masks to cohorting, a guide to back-to-school rules across the country

Plans are being made across the country for how to safely send… Continue reading

Red Deer asking for feedback on new transit routes

The new routes will begin Aug. 23

Red Deer region unemployment hits 14% in July

Unemployment in Red Deer region nearly double July 2019 rate of 7.4%

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

OTTAWA — Canada’s labour market gained 419,000 jobs last month as more… Continue reading

1 in 7 Albertans have been tested for COVID-19

56 additional cases Thursday, 1,107 active cases remain in the province

Protestors for Indigenous Lives Matter gather in Wetaskiwin

Protestors gathered along 56 St Wetaskiwin, Alta. August 4, 2020 for Indigenous Lives Matter.

You have nothing to fear from central EMS dispatching

My name is Brad Higgins. I am reaching out with respect to… Continue reading

Maskwacis teen charged in 10-year-old boy’s death

The RCMP Major Crimes Unit have laid a manslaughter charge against a 14-year-old boy from Maskwacis.

‘Caught up in the frenzy:’ Oilers 50/50 draw breaking ticket sale records

Previous record was held by Toronto Raptors fans when a 50/50 raffle reached $2 million

Expanded rail service would put Alberta’s economy on the fast track

To empower our communities, unite our province, and grow our economy, Alberta… Continue reading

Alberta jury trials to resume next month at offsite locations due to COVID-19

About 12 locations across Alberta may host the trials in halls, hotels and community centres

Alberta school curriculum to focus on basics, keep out political bias: minister

NDP education critic says the kindergarten to Grade 4 changes should have been implemented a year ago

Walmart to make face masks mandatory for customers across Canada

Requirement goes into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 12 across Canada

Oilers 50/50 draw prepared for more fan frenzy for Game 4 against Blackhawks

EDMONTON — Frenzy over the Edmonton Oilers online 50/50 draw may continue… Continue reading

Most Read