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Federal Railroad Administrator Szabo Launches a Collaborative Effort to End Workplace Electronic Device Distraction within Railroad Industry

U.S. Department
of Transportation

Office of Public Affairs,
Washington D.C.

www.dot.gov/briefingroom

  • 16
  • Nov
  • 2012
PRESS RELEASE NUMBER: FRA 30-12
CONTACT: Kevin Thompson
PHONE: 202-493-6024
SUBJECT: Roadway Worker Protection
KEYWORDS: Electronic Device Distraction
ABSTRACT: Northlake, Ill. – Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo joined senior railroad industry leaders and labor officials to launch a collaborative effort to educate and raise awareness among rail industry employees of the dangers of using electronic devices on the job. Administrator Szabo encouraged rail companies to adopt anti-distraction programs and challenged all railroad employees to make the improper use of such devices while on the job socially unacceptable.

Northlake, Ill. – Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo joined senior railroad industry leaders and labor officials to launch a collaborative effort to educate and raise awareness among rail industry employees of the dangers of using electronic devices on the job.  Administrator Szabo encouraged rail companies to adopt anti-distraction programs and challenged all railroad employees to make the improper use of such devices while on the job socially unacceptable.

“Distraction can impact anyone, whether they’re driving a car or working in a railroad environment, and the consequences can be equally serious – and even deadly,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  “Ending distraction will take everyone’s help, and I appreciate leaders in the railroad industry and labor joining us in this important safety effort.”

Today’s event marks the launch of a collaborative outreach effort to encourage the establishment of peer-to-peer programs that raise awareness among all railroad employees of the dangers of distraction.  Railroad employees who improperly use electronic devices while on the job violate both federal regulations and railroad operating rules, while endangering themselves and possibly their coworkers, railroad passengers, and those who live and work along rail lines.

“I have spent my entire career in the railroad industry, and I know firsthand how distractions can lead to danger,” said Administrator Szabo.  “That’s why I’m calling on all rail industry employees to adopt a zero tolerance position on using electronic devices while working, building an even stronger safety culture where workers can confidently depend on one another to keep everyone safe.”

In October 2008, FRA issued an Emergency Order to prohibit the use of electronic devices by railroad operating employees.  The Emergency Order was codified by FRA as a regulation, which includes all railroad employees, in September 2010.

The kick-off event to highlight the dangers of distraction was held at Union Pacific Railroad’s Proviso Yard, as Union Pacific is among the first rail carriers nationally to adopt a peer-to-peer program to eliminate electronic device distractions.  Representatives from several labor organizations and rail companies also took part in the event.

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