Visibility was 10 miles and the morning sun had pushed the temperature close to 90 as Danny Joe Hall guided his mile-long Union Pacific freight train east through the grasslands of the Oklahoma Panhandle. Near the farming town of Goodwell, federal investigators said, the 56-year-old engineer sped through a series of yellow and red signals warning him to slow down and stop for a Los Angeles-bound train moving slowly onto a side track.

The 83-mph collision killed Hall and two crewmen. Dozens of freight cars derailed, and the resulting inferno sent towers of black smoke over the plains, prompting the evacuation of a nearby trailer park. As it turned out, Hall was colorblind. The National Transportation Safety Board’s subsequent probe of the June 2012 wreck faulted the engineer’s deteriorating eyesight and inadequate medical screening that failed to fully evaluate his vision problems.

But the Goodwell crash underscored a far larger concern: Railroads are the only mode of U.S. commercial transportation without national requirements for thorough, regular health screenings to identify worker ailments and medications that could compromise public safety.

 Read more from the Los Angeles Times.

Members covered by Aetna, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield or UnitedHealthcare seeking information about treatment options, chronic conditions or answers to other health-related questions can call a “nurse line” for answers 24 hours a day, every day.

This free service can help you with losing weight, managing stress, quitting tobacco and much more. More importantly, the nurse line offers you information, motivation, encouragement, and the one-on-one support that can make a real difference in your health: to stay well, get well or manage a health condition.

You or one of your dependents can call your plan’s nurse line for:

1. Learn about any health topic that concerns you;

2. Change a behavior, like smoking or overeating, that affects your overall health;

3. Gather information about a recent diagnosis;

4. Learn about symptoms for certain illnesses and diseases;

5. Find out about your medications;

6. Understand an upcoming test or procedure;

7. Make an informed medical or surgical health care decision;

8. Follow through with a treatment plan;

9. Manage a chronic condition, like asthma or diabetes, more effectively;

10. Understand treatment options;

11. Learn how to handle symptoms to avoid emergency room visits;

12. Find ways to reduce risks associated with the condition. 

To take advantage of this valuable resource, simply call the number on the back of your medical identification card anytime, or refer to the numbers below:Aetna: (800) 556-1555

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield: (888) BLUE-428

UnitedHealthcare: (866) 735-5685

The summary plan description booklets for both the National Railway Carriers and UTU Health and Welfare Plan (NRC/UTU) and the Railroad Employees’ National Health and Welfare Plan are now available on the SMART TD website.
Both booklets give information on the Comprehensive Health Care Benefit (CHCB); the Managed Medical Care Program (MMCP); the Mental Health/Substance Abuse Benefit (MH/SA), the Managed Pharmacy Services Benefit (MPSB), plus additional information on all aspects of the medical benefit plans covering railroad operating employees and their eligible dependents.
All employees should have received a copy of the applicable plan book in the mail; this web posting provides an alternate source for this important information.
Click here to be directed to the NRC/UTU booklet; click here to be directed to the National Health and Welfare plan book.