The Rail Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program has opened registration for a hazmat/chemical emergency response training program in April for rail workers in Arizona, western New Mexico, southeastern California and the Navajo Nation.

This training addresses OSHA- and DOT-required training in addition to procedures, different levels of response and worker protection in a hazardous materials emergency or release, weapons of mass destruction awareness and the incident command system. The Rail Program will conduct the 30-hour Chemical Emergency Response and OSHA 10 Hour Awareness Training Program, and the training also provides completion of the OSHA 10-Hour General Industry Outreach requirements.

The training will be held April 1 to 5 in Winslow, Ariz., in the back room of Bojo’s Grill and Sports Club 117 W. 2nd St.

The Rail Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program is funded to provide this training by a federal grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The funding provides the following student expenses: travel, lodging and meals. In addition, an incentive of $175 per day is available to all training participants of these programs, except those who are able to secure regular pay through their employer, or are paid union officers. Lodging is available to attendees traveling more than 50 miles to the workshop.

A flier about the session is available to post at your worksite.

Follow this link to register online.

For more information, call 202-624-6963 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern, Monday through Friday.

The Rail Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program has opened registration for a hazmat/chemical emergency response training program in April for rail workers in Arizona, western New Mexico, southeastern California and the Navajo Nation. This training addresses OSHA- and DOT-required training in addition to procedures, different levels of response and worker protection in a hazardous materials emergency or release, weapons of mass destruction awareness and the incident command system. The training also provides completion of the OSHA 10-Hour General Industry Outreach requirements and is delivered using interactive classroom instruction, small group activities, hands-on drills and a simulated hazmat response in full safety gear.
The training will be held April 10 to 14 in Winslow, Ariz., and attendees must use their own personal vehicles to get to the training. Air transport is not provided for this session.
Those who have taken the 40-hour chemical emergency response course in the last three years should not register for this round of training.
The Rail Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program is funded to provide this training by a federal grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).
A flier about the sessions is available to post at your worksite.
Follow this link to register online.
For more information, call 202-624-6963 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern, Monday through Friday.

Registration remains open for rail workers in Arizona, western New Mexico and southeastern California for a 40-hour hazmat training session to be held in Winslow, Ariz.
The session on chemical emergence response lasts April 9 to 13 and is part of the docket of classes funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) that fulfills OSHA and DOT training requirements.
Class attendees must drive to the class. There will not be air travel to this session.
For more information, visit

Yvonne Hayes, chairperson of Local 1138 in Miami, Florida, and an assistant general chairperson (GO‐851), was recently selected to serve as a member of the FEMA National Advisory Council (NAC) Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs and Safety Evaluation (RESPONSE) subcommittee. She is the sole committee member representing rail labor.
Hayes brings nearly 40 years of experience in the labor movement and 25 years in freight rail, to her new role. Her career in transportation and focus on safety was ingrained at a young age, as Hayes’ father was an airline pilot who also served as the safety chairperson for his union. She grew up listening to real-life accident scenarios in the transportation industry—and her father’s focus on safety and “doing the job right” above all else, has stayed with her throughout her career.
In 2008, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Labor Studies and Occupational Safety & Health from the National Labor College, and later taught industrial safety and instructional systems design courses at the CollegeHayes is an authorized OSHA Trainer for 10- and 30-hour courses on industry safety standards.
She also serves as a Staff Peer Trainer for the Rail Workers’ Hazmat Training Program (RWHMTP).  The RWHMTP, a consortium of nine rail unions, is designed to educate rail workers beyond the generalized safety training provided by carriers, and empowers rail workers with increased knowledge on the risks associated with rail transport of hazardous materials.
Hayes has worked with her fellow RWHMTP trainers in developing innovative curricula that arms railroaders with the confidence they need to master safety rules and regulations and to understand the science behind them. Her “Railworkers HazMat Toolbox”, developed under a Hazardous Materials Instructor Training (HMIT) grant by the Department of Transportation (DOT), was designed to provide hazmat awareness-level training in short sessions, specifically tailored to the daily safety briefing slots on the railroad. Additionally, Hayes collaborates frequently with members of SMART‐TD around the country—at locals, workshops and regional meetings, conducting Labor, Safety & Health seminars and hazmat courses.
Hayes has been a mentor to new hire conductors at her terminal and was also one of the labor members of CSX’s Labor‐Management Rule Simplification Team, whose mission was to rewrite the CSX Operating Rules manual with the end goal of eliminating “gray areas” that allowed CSX managers to interpret rules differently from one day to the next.  In 2014, Hayes had the honor of being selected as one of two labor members to represent this team at the Railroad Safety Leadership Forum of the American Association of Railroads.
In addition to her recent appointment to the FEMA RESPONSE subcommittee, Hayes continues to serve as one of the SMART TD representatives on the Hazardous Materials Working Group of the FRA Rail Safety Advisory Committee.
Hayes’ recent appointment will bring railroad safety issues from a labor perspective to the national forefront, and will allow Hayes to apply her freight rail safety experience and expertise to affect positive change and make the railroad safer for everyone.
“Yvonne has been a longtime leader on hazardous materials transport concerns, and we are very proud that she will now be a strong voice on the federal level regarding these critical issues that have a significant safety impact on our rail membership, said John Previsich, President of the SMART Transportation Division.
Hayes zeroed in on how her appointment will help support rail labor:
“The most important thing is that this is an opportunity for rail labor to assist our brothers and sisters in the field of emergency services to stay safe when they respond to a derailment or other railroad emergency. I am honored to represent SMART Transportation Division and all rail labor in this new role,” she said.
Photo: Yvonne Hayes at Women’s March in Washington, D.C. – January 2017

Railroad Worker’s DOT-NIEHS Hazardous Material Training for Minnesota and Upper Midwest SMART-TD members!
SMART TD members located in Minnesota or the Upper Midwest from all rail crafts are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible for our HazMat-DOT Train the Trainer Class.    The pay for attending and completing the week-long training class is approximately $1,050.00 from the DOT-NIEHS.
September 26 – October 1, 2016.  Class begins Monday, September 26 at 7:30am and concludes on Saturday, October 1st at 1:00 p.m. Lunches will be provided.  Class attendees must arrange to mark-off with their carriers.
Courtyard Marriott, 1500 South Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN.  Located near the University of Minnesota, West Bank Campus – I-35W and Washington Avenue. Ramp parking is available to attendees at no cost. Check with the Courtyard Marriott Front Desk Attendant for parking permit.
TO REGISTER: Simply click this link to register  at the DOT-NIEHS Rail Hazmat website.

Please let us know so we can log attendees!  Email the SMART TD Minnesota office at:; Or, call your SMART-TD Minnesota Legislative Board Office at 651-222-7500.
If you live in the Upper Midwest and need a hotel room, please contact the DOT-NIEHS Travel Dept. at (202) 624-6999 to make your hotel reservation.   Attendees must drive their own vehicles.  No air travel is available.
QUESTIONS: Contact: Phil Qualy, SMART-TD Director at (651) 222-7500.



Washington, DC – April 28, Congressman Donald Norcross (D – N.J.) introduced his first bill, H.R. 2074, the Toxics by Rail Accountability and Community Knowledge (TRACK) Act, to improve hazmat-by-rail safety by implementing a series of recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) following the 2012 train derailment in Paulsboro, New Jersey. Since being sworn in to Congress in November of last year, Rep. Norcross has worked closely with Senator Bob Menendez and local officials on legislation designed to avoid catastrophes like the one that occurred in Paulsboro, while working to benefit from the lessons learned from this accident. 

On November 20, 2012, a freight train derailed in Paulsboro, New Jersey, causing several tanker cars to crash and spill toxic vinyl chloride into the atmosphere. Thanks to the efforts of the local first responders, State Office of Emergency Management, U.S. Coast guard, and countless others, the risk of injury was minimized. However, an estimated 1,500 people were forced to evacuate their homes.

In the wake of the accident, the NTSB conducted an independent investigation into the cause of the derailment and toxic chemical spill. The legislation introduced by Rep. Norcross addresses a number of the public safety concerns raised by the NTSB, while working to implement their recommendations into law. 

“As Representatives in Congress, our top duty is to ensure the safety and security of our residents, which is why I have chosen to pursue these common-sense rail safety reforms in my very first piece of legislation,” said Congressman Norcross. “Following the 2012 train derailment in Paulsboro and other preventable public safety emergencies, we must ensure that rail users take steps to minimize the risk of an accident and provide recourse to those affected when companies fail to do so. These NTSB-supported recommendations will improve rail safety and expand protections for first responders and residents who live along train routes.”

“After years of study, the NTSB found that Conrail’s actions after the Paulsboro derailment endangered the train crew, local residents and first responders.  But, the report also gave us a roadmap for how to improve the safety of shipping hazardous materials by rail—and this bill turns those recommendations into action,” said Sen. Menendez, who introduced the companion bill in the Senate.  “No legislation can change the events of that day, or fully bring back peace of mind to the residents of Paulsboro, but I hope this legislation can be one step towards righting the wrongs that occurred and to forcing the railroads that operate in our communities to put public safety at the forefront.”

The TRACK Act will:

  • Create strong penalties for railroads that violate safety standards, to ensure that safety lapses aren’t viewed as an acceptable cost of doing business;
  • Require up-to-date, accurate, and standardized hazardous materials information to better support first responders and emergency management officials;
  • Establish new safety procedures and qualifications to improve moveable bridge crossing safety;
  • Improve risk assessment and decision-making tools for railroads to ensure that safety is always the top priority; and
  • Enhance public education along rail routes that carry hazardous materials to ensure communities are prepared to respond in the event of an emergency.

WASHINGTON — The single most important action Congress and the Federal Railroad Administration can take to improve rail safety — especially in the movement of hazardous materials — is to eliminate train-crew fatigue and provide predictable start times for train crews.

That was the message delivered April 7 to the House Railroad Subcommittee by UTU National Legislative Director James Stem. The subcommittee met to learn more about rail hazmat safety.

“The unpredictable work schedules of safety critical operating employees in the railroad industry has and continues to be the root cause of the fatigue problems that have placed many releases of hazardous materials on the front pages of our newspapers,” Stem told the subcommittee.

Although the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA) provides for 10 hours of undisturbed rest between work assignments, “the application is misplaced because it does nothing to improve the predictability of reporting times nor does it allow employees the opportunity to plan their rest before reporting for duty,” Stem said.

“One small improvement that will make a tremendous difference in the safety for all train operations is simply to move the required 10 hours of undisturbed rest from immediately following service to immediately preceding service,” Stem said.

“The minimum of 10 hours of notification before reporting for 12 hours or more of safety critical service will allow operating employees to get their proper rest prior to reporting for duty so they can safety and alertly operate their train while on duty.

“An even greater safety enhancement would be to assign regular start times for each crew, or at a minimum require that crews be notified before going off duty of the time they must report back for service,” he said.

Stem told the subcommittee that many railroads “have worked hard since RSIA was passed to develop new software programs to enable their operations to deny the required rest days for employees. Many employees are required to observe their only day off while laying over in a one-star hotel at the away from home terminal.

“The itemized six-and-two and seven-and-three work-rest schedules in the RSIA remain a dream for 95 percent of our freight operating employees,” Stem said.

The UTU’s national legislative director also stressed a need for more frequent track inspections. “Timely track inspections by qualified track inspectors should be conducted with a frequency directly proportional to the amount of traffic passing over a track segment,” Stem told the subcommittee.

Stem provided the subcommittee, on behalf of the UTU and its members, a list of 24 specific recommendations to reduce crew fatigue:

  1. Railroad employees covered by the hours of service law shall be provided a predictable and defined work/rest period.
  2. A 10-hour call for all unassigned road service. This provision would require the 10 hours of undisturbed rest be provided immediately prior to performing covered service instead of immediately following service.
  3. All yard service assignments with defined start times will be covered by the same provisions that now apply to passenger and commuter rail.
  4. All yardmaster assignments will be HOS-covered service under the freight employees’ rule.
  5. The FRA shall issue regulations within 12 months to require all deadhead transportation in excess of a certain number of hours to be counted as time on duty and a job start.
  6. No amount of time off-duty at the away from home terminal will reset the calendar clock of job starts, and the employee shall not be required to take mandatory rest days at the away from home terminal.
  7. 24 hours off duty at the home terminal which does not include a full calendar day will reset the calendar clock.
  8. Interim release periods require notification to the crew before going off duty. If the crew is not notified, the 10 hours uninterrupted rest will prohibit changing the service to include an interim release.
  9. There shall be a two-hour limit on limbo time per each tour of duty.
  10. There shall be assigned a minimum of 24 hours off duty at the designated home terminal in each seven-day period during which time the employee shall be unavailable for any service for the railroad. The off-duty period shall encompass a minimum of one full calendar day and the employee shall be notified not less than seven calendar days prior to the assigned off duty period.
  11. A railroad shall provide hot nutritious food 24 hours a day at the sleeping quarters when the crew is at the designated away from home terminal, and at an interim release location. If such food is not provided on a railroad’s premises, a restaurant that provides such food shall not be located more than five minutes normal walking distance from the employee’s sleeping quarters or other rest facility. Fast food establishments shall not satisfy the requirements of this subsection.
  12. A railroad shall be prohibited from providing sleeping quarters in areas where switching or humping operations are performed.
  13. Not later than 12 months after the date of enactment of this act, the FRA shall promulgate a regulation requiring whistle-board signs allocated at least 1/4 mile in advance of public highway-rail grade crossings. Provided, however, such regulation shall not apply to such crossings that are subject to a whistle ban.
  14. Under the railroad whistle-blower law, the secretary of labor shall have subpoena power to require the production of documents and/or the attendance of witnesses to give testimony.
  15. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, regulation or order, whenever Congress enacts legislation mandating that the FRA promulgate a railroad safety regulation, there shall be no requirement for a cost/benefit analysis by the FRA.
  16. During an accident/incident investigation process, upon request, a railroad shall produce event recorder information to law enforcement personnel and to the designated employee representative(s) defined under the Railway Labor Act.
  17. In an engineer or conductor decertification proceeding, if the FRA issues a final order in favor of an employee, a railroad shall be prohibited from subsequently attempting to discipline such employee for any alleged acts which may have arisen from the incident involved in the decertification proceeding.
  18. In an engineer or conductor certification or decertification proceeding the FRA shall have the authority to require the retesting of the employee, to order the employee’s reinstatement with the same seniority status the employee would be entitled to but for decertification or refusal of certification, and to grant any other or further relief that the FRA deems appropriate.
  19. All federal railroad safety laws and regulations shall be subject only to the preemption requirements set forth in the Federal Railroad Safety Act.
  20. A railroad owned or operated by a state or other governmental entity shall, as a condition of being a recipient of federal funds, agree immediately thereafter the receipt of such funds to waive any defense of sovereign immunity in a cause of action for damages brought against such railroad alleging a violation of a federal railroad safety law or regulation pursuant to title 28, 45, or 49, United States Code.
  21. No state law or regulation covering walkways for railroad employees shall be preempted or precluded until such time as the FRA promulgates a regulation which substantially subsumes the subject matter.
  22. In any claim alleging a violation of a federal railroad safety law, a settlement of such claim cannot release a cause of action, injury or death which did not exist at the time of settlement of such claim.
  23. An employee of the NTSB or the FRA who previously worked as a railroad employee has the right to return to railroad employment with all seniority retained.
  24. Amtrak shall not be liable for damages or liability, in a claim arising out of an accident or incident unless the said Corporation is negligent in causing the accident or incident.

WASHINGTON — A doubling in the number of damaged or leaking hazardous materials containers shipped by rail has prompted the UTU and six other rail labor organizations to petition the Federal Railroad Administration for enhanced safety standards to protect rail workers and the public.

Rail labor is concerned that the FRA routinely grants special permission for railroads to transport damaged hazardous materials containers on mainline tracks to repair facilities.

In fact, the number of such requests has more than doubled since 2007, subjecting rail workers and the public to an unacceptable risk of exposure, the labor organizations told the FRA.

“Railroads and shippers must do more to reduce the incidence of non-conformance,” the organizations told the FRA.

Among changes sought by rail labor is advance notification to rail workers and necessary protection when workers are in the vicinity of damaged containers transporting hazmat.

Current federal regulations provide no requirement that safety devices be provided to protect rail workers from exposure to hazmat.

The labor organizations told the FRA that operating crews should be provided emergency escape breathing apparatus when involved in the movement of hazmat containers.

Although there have been no injuries or known exposures, the risk of employee exposure will only increase if the current rate of movement approvals continues, the FRA was told.

“Railroads and shippers have a business interest in timely review and approval of movement requests,” the labor unions told the FRA.

“As soon as the backlog impacts their bottom line, railroads and shippers will pressure FRA to accelerate the approval process. Such acceleration will undoubtedly diminish the level of detail and due diligence now afforded each request, resulting in an increased probability of unintended consequences such as fire, explosion or chemical exposure,” rail labor said.

In addition to the UTU, rail labor organizations jointly providing the comments to the FRA include the American Train Dispatchers Association, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, the Transport Workers Union, and the Transportation Communications Union.

Click here to read rail labor’s submission to the FRA.