New hours of duty rules for railways

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

OTTAWA – Transport Canada has updated the Duty/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees. 

The new rules place new limits on the length of a duty period, and increase the length of the minimum rest period between shifts. The new rules also establish limits on the total number of hours that can be worked in a week (60 hours in a seven-day period) as well as in a month (192 hours in a 28-day period).

Under a ministerial order, the railway industry, in collaboration with labour organizations, proposed updated rules which  enhance the existing rules. For example, the industry will be required to develop more comprehensive Fatigue Management Plans that establish clear responsibilities for mitigating fatigue risks.

“I would like to thank the railway industry, as well as unions for their contribution to the updated Duty/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees based on the principles of fatigue science,” said transport minister Marc Garneau.

“The new rules represent a historic improvement over the existing framework and incorporate modern and evidence-based fatigue management principles to a whole sector of the transportation industry. My department will continue to engage with unions and the railway industry on ways to further address the risks of operator fatigue.”

Fatigue management plans

Under the new rules, railways will need to complete their Fatigue Management Plans within 12 months and implement the Fitness for Duty provisions within 24 months. In consideration of the significant changes required under these rules, the requirements regarding the length of work and rest periods will take effect in 30 months from today for freight railways, and in 48 months from today for passenger railways, to ensure implementation.

The revised rules will be complemented by regulations on fatigue risk management systems to further mitigate the risks of fatigue.

The Work/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees were first put into place in 2002 and were last updated in 2011 to include a component on fatigue management.