FWIW, and we know (just about) how much that is-- my comment on LIRR's petition Docket FRA 2014-0093.
I don't ever recall urging readers to submit comments to FRA on matters placed on the docket, but if you regard this petition as I do, as something introducing unjustifiable risk into daily train operations, it's worth making the exception.
Agency: Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
Document Type: Nonrulemaking
Title: Long Island Rail Road - Waiver Request
Document ID: FRA-2014-0093-0001
LIRR's petition (Docket FRA-2014-0093-0001) requesting a waiver for certain requirements of 49 CFR Parts 240 and 242 while the railroad attempts to reach an understanding with its labor organizations regarding close call confidential reporting is a radical expansion of the use and purpose of close call systems in that the "umbrella" is to be extended to decertifiable offenses and in fact, to such offenses AFTER such violations have resulted in FRA reportable accidents.
To be specific, in its petition, LIRR requests relief from the requirements of 242.403 (e) (6-11). Each of these portions instructs "railroads shall only consider those violations [of the applicable sections of part 218] which cause reportable accidents or incidents of part 225 of this chapter, except for accidents that are classified as "covered data" under 225.5 of this chapter."
So if decertification under these portions of the regulation is authorized only after a reportable accident or incident, or a lost-time injury occurs, and the LIRR wants relief from that requirement, we effectively have a condition 1) there is no confidentiality as the FRA reportable requirement requires an investigation assigning causes OR 2) the LIRR foregoes conducting such investigations, thereby losing information regarding the accident and insight into mitigating actions that need to prevent repetition of the accident.
Moreover, the LIRR request goes against the established tradition of various "self-reporting" mitigation and suspension of the discipline process FRA has endorsed, advocated, and upheld. I refer specifically to "operation red block" programs where the referral, and acknowledgement of substance abuse, cannot be used to suspend the discipline process after discovery of the abuse by a railroad officer investigating an operating rule violation.
Exactly how does this contribute to safety? LIRR claims that it regards the information obtained through this process, where decertification procedures are waived, as "invaluable in analyzing and developing effective corrective actions." Exactly what information is going to be obtained AFTER an accident by pretending that such confidentiality can exist?
In addition, LIRR requests relief from the requirements of 242.403 (f) (2). This part of the regulation states that "A violation of one or more operating rules or practices described in paragraphs (e)(1) through (11) of this section that occurs during a properly conducted operational compliance test subject to the provisions of this chapter, shall be counted in determining the periods of ineligibility described in 242.405."
If my understanding is correct, the LIRR is requesting relief from the decertification requirements when an employee commits this violation while under the indirect or direct real time observation of a railroad officer. This is, in my opinion having been a railroad operating officer for 31 years, will prove devastating to the operating authority officers must have, and must apply when conditions so warrant.
I urge FRA to reject this petition.
"How can it not know what it is?"
Deckard, Blade Runner