Are NJ Transit Employees Exceeding Safe Work Hours?

Photo of Train Derailment Hauling Corn

An ongoing investigation of NJ Transit may have uncovered more safety violations. According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the inspection found instances of work-hour violations. The alleged violations involve engineers and various on-board crew. Specifically, inspectors discovered altered duty logs showing NJ Transit employees were violating hours-of-service rules. These violations and other factors may raise the risk of railroad accidents.

Inspectors with the FRA found 246 instances of improper documentation on duty logs, including 34 where employees received insufficient rest time in between shifts. These 246 instances covered a period of two days last year in June.

Although violating hours-of-service rules can raise the risk of railroad accidents caused by fatigue, sleep apnea among NJ Transit employees is another major concern for investigators.

Railroad Worker Fatigue and Train Accidents: Can NJ Transit Be Held Accountable?

Fatigue is a major focus of the NTSB investigation into September’s train crash in Hoboken. It is also being investigated as a factor in the crash on Long Island that injured more than 100 people.

An additional FRA report from 2013 claims NJ Transit workers are among train workers nationwide most likely to suffer from fatigue and to exceed work-hour limits. Prior research conducted by the FRA found 25 percent of train accidents are caused by fatigue.

New Jersey’s two U.S. senators have asked the NTSB to review how railroad companies like NJ Transit are addressing the problem of sleep apnea. The condition causes sufferers to wake up multiple times per night, and can lead to excessive daytime drowsiness. It turns out the operator of the train in the Hoboken crash suffered from sleep apnea. This condition can be screened for and treated.

Railroad companies have an obligation to make public safety a major priority. There is no excuse to not screen for sleep apnea. Furthermore, hours-of-service rules exist to prevent accidents caused by fatigue. Passengers and family members harmed by railroad accidents should contact the New Jersey personal injury attorneys at Keefe Law Firm to explore legal options.