Weekly Compliance Digest – U.S. Passenger Railroads & Safety Risks Rule
System Safety Program
What is it?
On July 29, 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a new, final rule that requires passenger railroads to proactively identify potential safety hazards across their operations, and work to reduce and mitigate resulting risks. According to the FRA, the rule will help prevent safety problems from escalating and resulting in incidents, injuries or deaths.
The FRA’s final rule will mandate commuter and intercity passenger railroads to develop and implement a system safety program (SSP) to improve the safety of their operations. A SSP is a structured program with proactive processes and procedures, developed and implemented by commuter and intercity passenger railroads to identify and mitigate or eliminate hazards, and the resulting risks on each railroad’s system. A railroad has the flexibility to tailor a SSP to its specific operations. A SSP will be implemented after receiving approval by FRA of a submitted SSP plan. FRA will audit a railroad’s compliance with its SSP.
What are the requirements?
The final rule includes the following major provisions affecting commuter and intercity passenger railroads:
- Implement a risk-based hazard management program and risk-based hazard analysis:
- Identify hazards and resulting risks.
- Develop methods to mitigate or eliminate risks.
- Describe the various procedures, processes and programs in place that support the goals of the SSP, including, but not limited to, the following:
- A maintenance, inspection and repair program.
- Rules, compliance and procedures review(s).
- SSP employee/contractor training.
- A public safety outreach program.
In addition, to ensure all employees directly affected by a SSP have an opportunity to provide input on the development, implementation and evaluation of a railroad’s SSP, a railroad must consult in good faith and use best efforts to reach agreement with all directly affected employees on the contents of the SSP plan and amendments to the plan. The FRA rule provides guidance regarding what constitutes “good faith” and “best efforts”.
What is next?
The final rule was published in the Federal Register on August 12, 2016 and will be effective as of October 11, 2016. Comments can be sent until November 15, 2016.
A railroad is required to submit its SSP plan to FRA for review 485 days after the effective date of the final rule (i.e. February 8, 2018) , or not less than 90 days before commencing operations, whichever is later.
UPDATE: On February 13, 2017, FRA issued a stay of the rule until March 21, 2017.
Visit Enablon Insights again on Friday September 9, 2016 for a brand new Weekly Compliance Digest!
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