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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are seeking public input on the impact of screening, evaluating and treating rail workers and commercial motor vehicle drivers for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).The agencies are soliciting comments for the next 90 days as part of a jointly filed advance notice of proposed rulemaking, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced yesterday. The advance notice is the first step to consider whether to propose rules on OSA. The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that USDOT address the screening and treatment of the disorder for transportation workers.The FRA and FMCSA will host public listening sessions in Washington D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles. The advance notice contains information on where and how to file public comments.OSA is a respiratory disorder characterized by a reduction or cessation of breathing during sleep. Undiagnosed or inadequately treated, moderate to severe OSA can cause unintended sleep episodes and deficits in attention, concentration, situational awareness, memory and the ability to safely respond to hazards when performing safety sensitive actions. For people with the disorder, eight hours of sleep can be less refreshing than four hours of ordinary, uninterrupted sleep, according to a study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine."The sooner patients with OSA are diagnosed and treated, the sooner our rail network will be safer," FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg said. "Over the next 90 days, we look forward to hearing views from stakeholders about the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea, their views on diagnosis and treatment, and potential economic impacts."The FRA also is preparing a rule that will require certain railroads to establish fatigue management plans. In 2012, the FRA partnered with the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, WFBH Education Foundation and the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center to sponsor the Railroaders Guide to Healthy Sleep website, which provides information to railroaders and their families about sleep disorders.
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