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Safety Board Pushes for OSA Screenings

On October 20, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent letters urging the Coast Guard and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to ramp up OSA screening efforts for drivers. The NTSB recommended implementing programs to identify commercial drivers and licensed mariners at high risk for OSA, and requiring those drivers to provide evidence through the medical certification process of having been appropriately evaluated and effectively treated if needed.

In the opening remarks, both letters cite NTSB investigations of “a number of accidents and incidents in all modes of passenger transportation involving operators with sleep disorders.”

In the past, letters with similar recommendations were sent to the Federal Aviation Administration (August 2009) and the Federal Transit Administration (July 2009).

In the letter addressed to Admiral Thad W. Allen, Commandant, US Coast Guard, the NTSB summarized the problem. “The relative risk of accident involvement for individuals with OSA is clearly elevated and quite clearly associated with the untreated disease.”

The NTSB’s note to Rose A. McMurray, chief safety officer of the FMCSA, pointed to FMCSA’s own research as a reason for change. “The relative risk of accident involvement for individuals with OSA is clearly elevated and quite clearly associated with the untreated disease. FMCSA’s own research suggests a prevalence of more than 10 percent of at least moderate OSA in commercial drivers.”

In addition to the recommendation to implement a system to identify drivers/operators at a high risk of OSA, the NTSB also recommended developing and disseminating guidance for commercial drivers, mariners, employers, and physicians regarding the identification and treatment of those at high risk. The letter to the Coast Guard included an additional recommendation to elicit specific information about previous diagnosis of OSA and about the presence of specific risk factors for the disorder.

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NTSB Cites Human Fatigue in 2008 Trolley Collision

 


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