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Jun 07 Written by 

Eight Changes To FRA Post-Accident Testing In 2017

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No one likes change but, you gotta do it when it involves your railroad safety procedures. In 2017, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is changing the post-accident drug and alcohol testing requirements. It's the railroad employers responsibility to put these in place. We summarized the changes to help you prepare. 

Railroad crew members involved in specific accidents ("events") must be drug and alcohol tested. Title 49 CFR Part 219.201 explains these events. Part 219.201 is under Subpart C titled "Post-Accident Toxicological Testing. "Toxicological testing" is the scientific way of saying, "drug and alcohol testing". 

When do the FRA post-accident changes go into effect?

The FRA announced the post-accident drug and alcohol testing amendments in 2016. The FRA published these on June 10, 2016, and they go into effect on June 12, 2017. 

If there's a major train accident, crew members may need to be drug or alcohol tested. It depends on the circumstances surrounding the event. This list shows the FRA amendments. Read the official eCFR's for all the post-accident events. 

Here's the summary of the 2017 changes to the FRA post-accident events that require drug and alcohol testing:

  1. A fatality of anyone involved
  2. Damage to railroad property of $1.5 million or more
  3. If an on-duty employee dies within 12 hours of the incident
  4. If an employee interfered with a human-factor highway-rail grade crossing signal system. (The following involve this type of crossing signal accident.)
    1. An employee who was, or should have been, flagging highway traffic stop due to a grade crossing failure
    2. An employee who was, or should have been an equipped flagger 
    3. A fatality to any crew member involving a grade crossing
    4. An employee who violated rules that may have caused an accident 

When comparing the old FRA post-accident events to the new ones, there are a few changes. The most significant changes are the human-factor highway-rail grade accidents. 

Here's the difference between the old post-accident requirements and the new ones

  • The FRA states the involvement of a fatality of anyone will require crew members to be drug and alcohol tested. A fatality includes any crew members or the public that was involved.
  • The damage threshold to railroad property increased from $1 million to $1.5 million.
  • The FRA added a time clock that requires post-mortem testing if an employee dies within 12 hours of an incident.
  • Impact accident was redefined.
  • They also added five events involving a human-factor highway-rail grade crossing. 

Reading these accident requirements makes you realize the importance of safety in the railroad industry. Preventing accidents should be a top priority for any railroad employer. To put these changes in place, update your drug and alcohol policy. You should also hold a meeting with all railroad safety personnel to go over and put in place these changes. Finally, you should make an announcement to your employees so that they understand the changes.  

What are some of the challenges your railroad company has with the FRA post-accident requirements? Comment below and let us know!

4822 Last modified on Wednesday, 04 October 2017
Hagen DeRouen

Co-founder & CEO at Screensoft. 10+ years of experience with employment screening program management and guidance. Certifications including FCRA basic, MRO assistant, and professional collector trainer.