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Dr. Sherry of the NCIT addresses Congress on fatigue in the railroad industry
Dr. Patrick Sherry, Co-Director of the National Center for Intermodal Transportation (NCIT) and a Professor with the Intermodal Transportation Institute (ITI) at the University of Denver, will address the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials regarding fatigue in the rail industry.Sherry’s testimony will stress the need for fatigue management plans to address these concerns that are jointly developed by labor and management. As Sherry states, ‘To fully address the fatigue issue, railroads should be required to establish fatigue countermeasure plans, evaluated by an independent scientific panel, that include an accountability mechanism.’ Maintaining optimal alertness levels is crucial to safe and efficient rail operations. The conclusions he will present are based on extensive work in the field of fatigue in railroad workers.
As Sherry notes in his recommendations, ‘The overriding principle that should guide decisions in this area is the need to address, not just the number of hours worked, but the number of hours off between duty periods. Such rest hours will facilitate adequate rest for recovery.’ His research and recommendations embrace a comprehensive view of the extenuating time and pressures on train operators, which often contribute to sleep deprivation. ‘In order to fully recover and to function optimally, it is necessary to have adequate time for rest, ideally seven to eight hours of sleep in every twenty-four hour period. People can function with less sleep but performance decreases as hours of wakefulness increase.’
Teaching, conducting research, and consulting in the area of human behavior for almost 20 years, Sherry is trained as a psychologist. He has extensively studied the effects of fatigue, safety attitudes, and safety culture. His credentials include delivering over 140 scientific papers and the publication of more than 35 articles and book chapters. He has led major projects with several Class I Railroads, ranging from fatigue and stress to the development of safety teams and safety leadership skills training. More recently he has been extensively involved in addressing the impact of shift work and fatigue on workplace safety. He has consulted internationally with the governments of Indonesia and the Philippines to aid in developing their infrastructure within an intermodal framework. He is the author of a book entitled, Managing Fatigue in the Transportation Industry, currently in press.
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