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Alertness Is a Shared Responsibility

A cross-industry panel of railroad stakeholders agrees...

Alertness, along with healthy sleep management, is a shared responsibility. It is your company’s responsibility to give you time off to obtain the necessary sleep. It is your responsibility to use your time off to get the sleep you need. It is everyone’s responsibility that co-workers look out for each other’s safety, including noticing signs of reduced alertness.

At the core of the railroad industry’s fatigue issue is a basic conflict between our human physiological need for sleep and the demand of 24/7 operations. Society’s need for around-the-clock passenger and freight services has grown over the years. However, the people who make it all work have not changed. Our bodies are still programmed to sleep when the sun goes down. 

Long hours, around-the-clock operations and unpredictable schedules can result in sleep loss and fatigue. Sleepiness, particularly in conjunction with chronic sleep debt, can have a negative impact on your relationships, attitude and job performance, or affect your health and safety. There is no magic bullet to eliminate fatigue, but there are many strategies that can help improve alertness, performance, mood, personal safety, and overall quality of life. When discussing the best way to manage fatigue, people have differing opinions, but experts generally agree that a comprehensive approach is the best.