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FMCSA Withdraws Sleep Apnea Pre-Rule

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has withdrawn its advance notice of proposed rulemaking on obstructive sleep apnea.

Heavy Duty Trucking reports the so-called “pre-rule” was regarded by the agency as “the first step” in considering whether to propose specific requirements around OSA for commercial vehicle drivers and rail workers in “safety sensitive positions.”

FMCSA said it “determined not to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking at this time and believes that current safety programs are the appropriate avenues to address OSA.”

The agencies did stress that “OSA remains an ongoing concern for the agencies and the motor carrier and railroad industries because it can cause unintended sleep episodes and resulting deficits in attention, concentration, situational awareness, and memory, thus reducing the capacity to safely respond to hazards when performing safety sensitive duties.”

The 2016 pre-rule (RIN 2126-AB88 and 2130-AC52), titled “Evaluation of Safety Sensitive Personnel for OSA,” had sought to obtain “data and information concerning the prevalence of moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea among individuals occupying safety sensitive positions in rail and highway transportation.”

The agencies also had requested information about the potential economic impact and safety benefits associated with “regulatory actions that would result in transportation workers in these positions, who exhibit multiple risk factors for OSA, undergoing evaluation by a healthcare professional with expertise in sleep disorders, and subsequent treatment.”

In its notice of withdrawal FMCSA added that it “reminds medical examiners that there are no FMCSA rules or other regulatory guidance beyond” existing Medical Review Board recommendations that already “provide objective criteria for identifying drivers who may be at greater risk for OSA.”

In addition, FMCSA said it will continue to recommend that drivers and their employers use the North American Fatigue Management Program, “a voluntary, fully interactive web-based educational and training program developed to provide both truck and bus commercial vehicle drivers and carriers and others in the supply chain with an awareness of the factors contributing to fatigue and its impact on performance.”

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