Working conditions at companies like Canadian Pacific, and elsewhere in the rail industry, have left crews unable to predict their work schedules and get proper sleep. Things are so bad that a growing number of engineers and conductors have to stay awake for 18-20 hours and be on call 24/7
Last Saturday, Global 16×9 aired an in-depth piece about fatigue in the rail industry. You can watch it here:
Worker fatigue is a major factor in accidents. Fatigue at the controls of a train was a possible cause of the Hinton, AB rail disaster of 1986, which left 23 dead and dozens more injured. Moreover, it played a role in the Lac Mégantic rail disaster, which killed 47 people.
“If you nod off for even 5 or 10 seconds, you risk going off the tracks,” explained an anonymous locomotive engineer to the reporter. Engineers and conductors could be disciplined if they speak up about fatigue at work, let alone on TV.
Fatigue was one of the issues that led to the last two strikes at Canadian Pacific.
Fatigue is an epidemic that affects all workers. We hope that raising the issue of fatigue in the rail industry will lead to discussions about fatigue in other industries, like trucking.