Author Topic: "rail industry is trying to do too much with too little"  (Read 1602 times)

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Scottl

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Re: "rail industry is trying to do too much with too little"
« Reply #45 on: June 10, 2021, 11:11:34 AM »
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There is a reason the thresholds for impairment (or potential impairment) are higher in commercial transport.  The liability and potential losses are significantly higher. Automobile accident rates (however defined) are apples to the oranges this thread is about.

Drugs and alcohol are two headline mechanisms for impairment, and suffer from cultural biases that are institutionalized in policy and law.  However, as noted, sleepiness, distraction, even food reactions are other mechanisms for impairment.

Dave V

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Re: "rail industry is trying to do too much with too little"
« Reply #46 on: June 10, 2021, 11:40:39 AM »
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Drugs and alcohol are two headline mechanisms for impairment, and suffer from cultural biases that are institutionalized in policy and law.  However, as noted, sleepiness, distraction, even food reactions are other mechanisms for impairment.

This is a very important point.  Fatigue and distraction can hit anyone regardless of what they do in their spare time.

When I'm in the red zone between cars lacing up air hoses or whatever I want that engineer on the head end to be free of alcohol and drugs. If he wants to smoke a little weed or have a little drink at lunchtime he can go work at Starbucks.

I don't think anyone is suggesting drinking or smoking weed over the lunch break.  Just as in the Air Force we say "eight hours bottle to throttle" for aircrews, a similar standard for any potentially impairing substance would be expected/demanded.  So no, burning down a blunt during your 30 minute lunch is not what any reasonable person is advocating.
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Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: "rail industry is trying to do too much with too little"
« Reply #47 on: June 10, 2021, 12:39:44 PM »
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Drugs and alcohol are two headline mechanisms for impairment, and suffer from cultural biases that are institutionalized in policy and law.  However, as noted, sleepiness, distraction, even food reactions are other mechanisms for impairment.

I'd posit that the sleepiness thing is a FAR worse problem given the "railroad lifestyle" that operating employees are forced into.

Here's a simple truth: if businesses want to employ quality people, they need to make themselves attractive to those people.

Historically, railroading has relied on offering relatively high pay. But it seems like the experience of working for a railroad is reaching a tipping point where many people are simply saying it's not worth it.

It's not surprising, given that many railroad labor practices haven't changed in the employees favor since the New Deal era.

This encompasses a wide variety of things, from "the extra board" (where you have no stability) to overbearing management (that now has cameras watching you at all times) to low job security (gotta watch that operating ratio to keep up the shareholder value, after all).

I know that, if I were treated by every company in my industry the way railroaders are usually treated by their employers, I'd have found a new one years ago.

So it's not surprising that in a world with many more opportunities for people that they're not choosing to take up ones that treat them like *****.

Missaberoad

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Re: "rail industry is trying to do too much with too little"
« Reply #48 on: June 10, 2021, 12:45:13 PM »
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I think part of the issue with the railroad (in the running trades at least) is that most of the time I'm subject to duty with a 2 hour call. Light right now I'm lined up for 2000 tonight but could get called any time if the lineup changes. Keeps me in good behavior :D
Personal experience shows that some guys (and girls) lack the self control to do that tho.. . In the past people have worked very hungover or worse because they got caught short. Most of the time no incident happens and the rest of the crew pulls their weight thru the day.

Ironically since Canada legalized recreational cannabis the company has changed their policy and enforcement to be more restrictive. Basically we are allowed to smoke but it must be 28 days prior to work. So guys with 18 years service and 4 weeks of AV can have a joint.  :D :facepalm:
Pretty much everyone who has been fired under this policy has gotten their job back at arbitration, so I imagine a more intelligent policy is in the works for some point in the future.

Like it has been said, as long as you can show up to work sober and it doesn't affect your performance, you do whatever you like on your own time.
Ryan in Alberta

signalmaintainer

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Re: "rail industry is trying to do too much with too little"
« Reply #49 on: June 10, 2021, 12:56:40 PM »
+1
When I'm in the red zone between cars lacing up air hoses or whatever I want that engineer on the head end to be free of alcohol and drugs. If he wants to smoke a little weed or have a little drink at lunchtime he can go work at Starbucks.

Yep.
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Dave V

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Re: "rail industry is trying to do too much with too little"
« Reply #50 on: June 10, 2021, 01:01:44 PM »
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I think part of the issue with the railroad (in the running trades at least) is that most of the time I'm subject to duty with a 2 hour call. Light right now I'm lined up for 2000 tonight but could get called any time if the lineup changes. Keeps me in good behavior :D
Personal experience shows that some guys (and girls) lack the self control to do that tho.. . In the past people have worked very hungover or worse because they got caught short. Most of the time no incident happens and the rest of the crew pulls their weight thru the day.

Ironically since Canada legalized recreational cannabis the company has changed their policy and enforcement to be more restrictive. Basically we are allowed to smoke but it must be 28 days prior to work. So guys with 18 years service and 4 weeks of AV can have a joint.  :D :facepalm:
Pretty much everyone who has been fired under this policy has gotten their job back at arbitration, so I imagine a more intelligent policy is in the works for some point in the future.

Like it has been said, as long as you can show up to work sober and it doesn't affect your performance, you do whatever you like on your own time.

This makes perfect sense.  When I knew I was on recall for the Air Force in various capacities I couldn't drink either.  In most of the capacities I was on recall, it was at designated times I was otherwise not on duty.  So for example, I might have the pager (I know, I'm dating myself here) for one week of the month for weekends and after duty hours.  During that week I would need to not drink alcohol, have transportation available, and be prepared to call within seconds of being paged.  Clearly being impaired in any way from alcohol to prescription medication (much of which can be just as mood-altering as cannabis, BTW) was a non-starter during those periods.

That said, if you're always on recall then common sense says no, you won't be using cannabis or getting piss-drunk.

No one--least of all me--is suggesting that it's all or nothing.  There will always be situations for which the use of cannabis is completely incompatible with one's profession.  And employers still have that right, even in states (and countries) where it's legal.  You're never entitled to employment by a private company.
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Hawghead

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Re: "rail industry is trying to do too much with too little"
« Reply #51 on: June 11, 2021, 10:45:01 AM »
+4
Philip H. asked the question how many railroad accidents are caused by drugs or alcohol.  The answer is very few.  The problem is it's the wrong question.  The right question is, why are so few railroad accidents or fatalities not drug or alcohol related?  The answer is simple, random drug and alcohol testing.  Allow me to tell a couple of stories to illustrate my point.  When I first hired out on the railroad I was working a job with a couple of old heads and we had this ancient switch engine and I noticed a mirror about 6" square glued to the top of the control stand.  I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out what it was doing there.  I didn't want to ask and appear to be as stupid FNG (though that's what I was).  But finally my curiosity got the better of me and I asked.  Seems the mirror was used to cut and snort lines of cocaine, so prevalent was drug use on the railroad.  Old heads would tell you there was a time when everyone carried a bottle in their grips.  When I first joined the Navy, drug use was rampant.  On 637 class submarines the auxiliary diesel generator is in the very lowest level in the bow compartment.  This space was unmanned except when it was necessary to run the diesel.  In this space there was a ventilation damper (D-15 if qualification memory serves), this damper had a nick name, the doper damper.  It was so named because it was an exhaust damper that went straight to the fan room, guys could smoke weed down there because the smoke would be drawn directly through to the fan room without anyone being able to smelling it.  Drinking onboard was, to be honest, common place if not actually being out in the open.  So what happened to change this behavior?  Did everyone just one day say "this behavior is wrong and dangerous"?  No random drug and alcohol test put a stop to it, but not completely, drug and alcohol abuse still happens in both the Navy and the railroad.  I still see guys "popping positive" on drug tests and "blowing hot" on breathalyzer tests.  The sad fact is, given the opportunity people will behave poorly with little concern for how their behavior effects others.  We all love a good philosophical discussion but all but a few here have a "dog in this fight".  Isn't it telling that the few of us who do are adamant about keeping random drug and alcohol testing in place.  This is because we live in this world that most of you only get the shinny glimpses of and it's our lives on the line when talking about drug and alcohol use on the railroads.

I'm just saying,
Scott     
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Englewood

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Re: "rail industry is trying to do too much with too little"
« Reply #52 on: June 11, 2021, 03:39:12 PM »
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Very well put, Hawhead!

MVW

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Re: "rail industry is trying to do too much with too little"
« Reply #53 on: June 11, 2021, 04:02:40 PM »
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Philip H. asked the question how many railroad accidents are caused by drugs or alcohol.  The answer is very few.  The problem is it's the wrong question.  The right question is, why are so few railroad accidents or fatalities not drug or alcohol related?  The answer is simple, random drug and alcohol testing.  Allow me to tell a couple of stories to illustrate my point.  When I first hired out on the railroad I was working a job with a couple of old heads and we had this ancient switch engine and I noticed a mirror about 6" square glued to the top of the control stand.  I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out what it was doing there.  I didn't want to ask and appear to be as stupid FNG (though that's what I was).  But finally my curiosity got the better of me and I asked.  Seems the mirror was used to cut and snort lines of cocaine, so prevalent was drug use on the railroad.  Old heads would tell you there was a time when everyone carried a bottle in their grips.  When I first joined the Navy, drug use was rampant.  On 637 class submarines the auxiliary diesel generator is in the very lowest level in the bow compartment.  This space was unmanned except when it was necessary to run the diesel.  In this space there was a ventilation damper (D-15 if qualification memory serves), this damper had a nick name, the doper damper.  It was so named because it was an exhaust damper that went straight to the fan room, guys could smoke weed down there because the smoke would be drawn directly through to the fan room without anyone being able to smelling it.  Drinking onboard was, to be honest, common place if not actually being out in the open.  So what happened to change this behavior?  Did everyone just one day say "this behavior is wrong and dangerous"?  No random drug and alcohol test put a stop to it, but not completely, drug and alcohol abuse still happens in both the Navy and the railroad.  I still see guys "popping positive" on drug tests and "blowing hot" on breathalyzer tests.  The sad fact is, given the opportunity people will behave poorly with little concern for how their behavior effects others.  We all love a good philosophical discussion but all but a few here have a "dog in this fight".  Isn't it telling that the few of us who do are adamant about keeping random drug and alcohol testing in place.  This is because we live in this world that most of you only get the shinny glimpses of and it's our lives on the line when talking about drug and alcohol use on the railroads.

I'm just saying,
Scott   

Scott, that's a perfectly reasonable perspective, so please don't think I'm arguing with you. I just have to wonder: if drug testing is the deterrent, then why aren't there scores of alcohol/drug-related accidents in countries that don't rely on testing?

It would stand to reason that if testing reduced OTJ substance use, than accidents related to substance use would be considerably higher in other countries that don't test. But that doesn't seem to be the case:

Quote
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32694447
"Based on data spanning the period 2004-12, for example, to expect one transit-related injury, a passenger would need to ride the French railroad for 4.9 million miles or the German railroad for 4.1 million miles. Yet he would need to ride America's railroads for only 84,300 miles, on average, to sustain one injury."

Quote
https://www.politico.eu/article/europe-trains-amtrak-safer-railways/
"European railways served 426 billion passenger kilometers in 2013, compared to America’s 27.6 billion passenger-kilometers (one passenger-kilometer is one passenger traveling one kilometer by rail). The US ranks 11th in the world on this measure, even behind Egypt (in 9th). It claims less than one third of the passenger-kilometers of EU rail powerhouses France (88.1 billion, 5th position) and Germany (82.4 billion, 6th position).

"But when it comes to fatalities per billion passenger-kilometers, the United States and the European Union are comparable. Between 2000 and 2009, there were 0.26 fatalities per billion passenger-kilometers, while the same figure stood at 0.24 for the whole of the EU in 2013, a year when 82 of the 102 fatalities in trains in Europe were in one incident in Spain. Still, the EU is years ahead of the US when it comes to railway maintenance, funding, and safety measures."


Jim


learmoia

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Re: "rail industry is trying to do too much with too little"
« Reply #54 on: June 11, 2021, 04:17:48 PM »
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Scott, that's a perfectly reasonable perspective, so please don't think I'm arguing with you. I just have to wonder: if drug testing is the deterrent, then why aren't there scores of alcohol/drug-related accidents in countries that don't rely on testing?

It would stand to reason that if testing reduced OTJ substance use, than accidents related to substance use would be considerably higher in other countries that don't test. But that doesn't seem to be the case:


Jim

If you tested every person involved in a vehicle accident for Drugs or Alcohol on the same standard as the railroad, your Accidents involving Drugs and Alcohol would be through the roof.

Drugs and alcohol aren't involved in accidents where country's don't rely on testing... because those countries don't test.

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learmoia

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Re: "rail industry is trying to do too much with too little"
« Reply #55 on: June 16, 2021, 03:50:41 PM »
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If he wants to smoke a little weed or have a little drink at lunchtime he can go work at Starbucks.

Now maybe GM too...
https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/unable-find-workers-hire-gm-considers-dropping-mandatory-marijuana-testing
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