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MTA to test employees for sleep apnea after the condition was blamed for recent train derailments
Updated On: Jan 31, 2017

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This should have commuters sleeping sound at night.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority board members backed a $7.5 million contract to test the crews on subways, buses and commuter rail roads for sleep apnea — a dangerous condition that has been investigated as a cause of recent train derailments.

The sleep apnea tests for the first time will cover Long Island Rail Road conductors and engineers, NYC Transit train crews and bus drivers.

After a fatal Metro-North derailment in the Bronx on Dec. 2013 that was blamed on an engineer's undiagnosed sleep apnea, the agency began a pilot program to test all 438 engineers and trainees, diagnosing 51 employees with the condition.

Sleep apnea is being investigated as a cause for the LIRR crash at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn earlier this month.

The contract — unanimously approved by the MTA board Finance Committee’s eight members — will let MTA test 20,000 employees.

“Safety is our top priority and MTA is going further than any other transportation agency in the country to prevent the risks of apnea,” outgoing MTA Chair and CEO Tom Prendergast said in a statement.

Four companies — ENT & Allergy/Night & Day Sleep Services, Respira, Northwell Health and Catholic Health Services of Long Island — will get the contract once the full MTA board approves it.

“We need to do the initial screenings, prioritized by looking at at-risk MTA employees, and get these apnea tests under way,” said Larry Schwartz, an MTA board member and former top aide to Gov. Cuomo.

“It’s an important way to assure the riding public that we’re doing everything humanly possible when it comes to their safety.”


 
 
ATU Local 1056
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