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Bridgeport crash sparks sleep screenings to prevent work injuries

A string of metro derailments has brought attention to improving safety on the lines. One of the suggested improvements to reduce injuries at work includes an increase in sleep disorder screenings to reduce fatigue in train engineers and other employees.

Five recent accidents on Metro-North's tracks have sparked conversations about improving the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders in order to prevent another on-the-job injury. This sequence of accidents began with a derailment in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Now, Metro-North plans to request approval from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to provide sleep screenings in a pilot program.

For its part the Federal Railroad Administration has begun addressing sleep disorders by writing rules on the topic in order to reduce fatigue-related accidents, injuries and fatalities. Some transit systems already employ sleep disorder screenings but others do not. Metro-North has been criticized for its lack of such a screening considering the string of recent accidents related to fatigue. A fatal Metro-North derailment last year has become a prime example when the engineer fell asleep at the controls and crashed, killing four and injuring dozens.

Railroad accidents have the potential to cause a lot of heartache for many people-passengers, employees or anyone near the tracks. Due to the inherent dangerous conditions railroad workers face, they are afforded protection under the Federal Employers Liability Act. FELA sets certain regulations for railroad companies regarding adequate training, sufficient supervision, and setting reasonable work quotas. If the company fails to abide by these standards and an employee is injured as a result, the worker may be able to receive compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages and medical treatment by filing a workers compensation lawsuit.

While employers such as Metro-North may do all they can to prevent workplace accidents, incidents sometimes still occur. In most lines of work, workers' compensation suits help injured employees recover financially while they focus on healing physically and emotionally from an on-the-job injury.

Source: Lohud, "Bronx derailment leading to sleep disorder screenings," Ken Valenti, Oct. 30, 2014

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