New Jersey Transit has pulled 12 different railroad and train workers from their jobs after they exhibited sleep apnea signs during routine medical screenings. This move comes after a decision by the transportation company to better diagnose and treat sleep apnea in its workers following a deadly train accident this fall.
According to New Jersey Online, six engineers, five conductors and one signal maintainer have been taken out of service without pay since October, all because they exhibited sleep apnea signs, which may include fatigue, daytime drowsiness, and snoring. Three of the workers have since returned to the job after seeking a positive diagnosis during a sleep study and an effective treatment.
A History of Sleep Apnea related Transportation Accidents
New Jersey Transit decided to add these new screening regulations after a fatal train crash in Hoboken, New Jersey on September 29. In the early-morning incident, 48-year-old Thomas Gallagher was the engineer in charge of the train when it sped into the station at twice the posted speed limit. The train struck the platform, injuring over 100 people and killing one person who was waiting for the train.
After the accident, Gallagher claimed he didn’t remember anything from the incident except waking up on the floor of the wrecked train. After the accident, he was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea.
In 2013, a speeding Metro-North Railroad train derailed on a curve while in the Bronx, killing four people and injuring 70 more. The engineer in that case was also found to have suffered from severe sleep apnea. He fell asleep at the controls, causing the crash.
New Sleep Apnea Regulations In Place After Deadly Train Crashes
The new NJ Tranist sleep apnea screenings and regulations were put in place almost immediately after the Hoboken accident. However, just weeks ago, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released a safety advisory strongly recommending that train companies screen their employees for OSA in order to prevent accidents. The FRA is currently working on official regulations regarding sleep apnea and certain train employees, but getting new laws in place could take years.
Other transportation organizations, such as organizations that deal with pilots and commercial drivers, have also been struggling with instating new regulations regarding screening and treating employees with sleep apnea. Regulations have been difficult because of issues related to how organizations should screen, how treatment should be handled, and what should happen to employees who have recently been diagnosed with OSA.
Sleep Apnea Surgery At Surgical Sleep Solutions
At Surgical Sleep solutions, we understand what a challenge it is to make our public transportation safer while protecting transportation workers, drivers, pilots, and engineers. We look forward to working with transportation workers as well as transportation companies in an effort to make certain that employees are quickly and efficiently given a quick diagnosis and the right treatment for them. To learn more about our services, or to talk to our team to help guide you in finding the right solution for you, please contact us today or call (855) 560-7378 or request more information below.