OTTAWA, O.N. – Transport Minister Marc Garneau is ordering railway companies to update rules to address employee fatigue.
The minister says requirements on work-rest periods for rail employees, introduced in 2002 with mainly minor changes since then, should reflect the latest science and fatigue management practices.
Calling for “changes now,” Garneau says the new rules should address issues such as shift length, minimum rest periods and advance notice for work schedules.
The order comes amidst an ongoing ramp-up in crude oil transport by rail and follows Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s pledge to buy new oil tanker cars that could eventually move an additional 120,000 barrels a day in response to a lack of pipeline capacity.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has cited sleep-related fatigue as a contributing factor in 19 major freight train accidents since 1994, including the Lac-Megantic tragedy in July 2013 when an oil train explosion killed 47 people. Since then, the amount of crude shipped by rail has doubled to a record 269,829 barrels a day in September 2018.
The railways, in consultation with unions, must submit rules to Transport Canada by May 19 for approval by the end of June.