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News Digest

PHMSA Proposes Hazmat Regulations Updates to Relieve Burdens, Increase Clarity.  The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is seeking public input on a set of proposed regulatory amendments to increase clarity and relieve private sector burdens without sacrificing safety standards. The rulemaking may be reviewed online at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/05/24/2012-12471/hazardous-materials-miscellaneous-petitions-for-rulemaking.  The agency has submitted numerous proposals for rulemakings in recent months that would eliminate unnecessary regulatory requirements for hazmat items, including auto safety components and a list of miscellaneous amendments to the HMR.  Contact:  Jeannie Layson (202) 366-4831     

Federal Railroad Administration Showcases Research and Development Portfolio The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) presented its strategic research agenda during its annual Research and Development Research Review held at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C. May 22 -23. The gathering was an opportunity for the FRA’s Office of Research and Development (R&D) to share its priorities and significant recent findings.  Recent R&D project successes include research into crashworthiness that has improved the safety of next generation passenger rail cars; analysis of vehicle-track interaction that has led to revised rules for track safety standards and vehicle qualification; development of a freight train braking algorithm that allows the safety benefits of positive train control to be achieved without adversely affecting operations; and the success of several safety culture improvement pilot programs that have reduced the number of accidents and incidents caused by human error.  Contact:  Mike England (202) 493-6024

     
FRA’s Close Call Reporting Program Shows Improvement in Safety, Decrease in Derailments.  In recent analysis, the Federal Railroad Administration’s Close Call Confidential Reporting System (C3RS) demonstration project has shown significant improvements in both safety and safety culture since C3RS was introduced, including a decrease in derailments. The analysis showed a 31 percent increase in the number of cars moved between incidents (leading to higher productivity) since designated corrective actions were implemented. A survey taken by employees suggested that safety culture had improved since C3RS was introduced at the site. Interviews indicated that disciplinary cases decreased by over 90 percent, thus reducing large amounts of time and paperwork that labor and management needed in order to resolve each case. The results of this analysis is available at http://www.fra.dot.gov/rpd/downloads/RR_Derailments_Decrease_C3RS_Site_at_Midterm_final.pdf)  Contact: Kevin Thompson (202) 493-6024

     
FMCSA Extends Time for Comments on Proposed Safety Measurement System Improvements. This week, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a 60-day extension of the time that motor carriers have to comment on proposed improvements to the agency’s proposed Safety Measurement System (SMS). The comment period now runs through July 30, 2012. SMS is the workload prioritization tool that helps FMCSA identify motor carriers for safety intervention. During the extension, FMCSA will conduct further outreach to carriers to encourage them to review how proposed enhancements will affect their SMS score and take action to correct potential safety problems before the changes are implemented. Carriers can access the SMS Preview through either the CSA Website or the FMCSA Portal using the “CSA Outreach” link. For more information about CSA, visit http://csa.fmcsa.dt.gov. Contact Shashunga Clayton: 202-366-9999.

Friday, May 25, 2012