The federal government, after 12 years of debate, today announced safety regulations for the railroad industry that will prohibit employees from reporting to work drunk or on drugs.
Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole said the new rules, effective Nov. 1, “will protect the public and railroad employees from the consequences of on-the-job drug and alcohol use.”
There are now no federal regulations banning alcohol and drug use by railroad workers, although the National Transportation Safety Board recommended adoption of such rules 12 years ago.
The rules announced by Dole will prohibit railroad workers from using and possessing alcohol or drugs while on the job.
They will also require alcohol and drug testing of employees involved in a major accident beginning Dec. 1, and authorize toxicological testing of workers when there is reason to suspect impairment and mandate pre-employment drug screening starting March 1, 1986.
Since 1975, the Transportation Department has recorded 48 train accidents that were caused by alcohol and drug-impaired workers, resulting in 37 deaths, 80 injuries and $34 million in property damage.
“Alcohol and drug abuse pose serious threats to transportation safety,” Dole said. “This regulation addresses my concern and the growing public concern about alcohol and drug abuse on the nation’s railroads. It ensures the public’s right to be protected while preserving the railroad employee’s right to be dealt with in a fair manner.”