The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration have withdrawn their joint rulemaking effort on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) among commercial vehicle drivers and rail workers. The action was expected as the rulemaking was among those the White House Office of Management and Budget listed among those that had been or would be withdrawn.
The agencies said OSA remains an ongoing concern for both modes because it can cause unintended sleep episodes and resulting deficits in attention, concentration, situational awareness, and memory, reducing the operator's capacity to safely respond to hazards when performing safety-sensitive duties. The agencies said that after an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) and a series of public session, they have have decided that current safety programs and FRA’s rulemaking addressing fatigue risk management are the appropriate avenues to address OSA.
FMCSA said will consider an update to its January 2015 “Bulletin to Medical Examiners and Training Organizations Regarding Obstructive Sleep Apnea" regarding the physical qualifications standard and related advisory criteria concerning respiratory dysfunction, specifically how the standard applies to drivers who may have OSA. The agency plans to use the updated August 2016 Medical Review Board recommendations as a basis for updating the bulletin. "In scenarios where medical examiners may inappropriately screen and refer drivers for diagnostic testing based on single criteria, the MRB’s 2016 recommendations provide objective criteria for identifying drivers who may be at greater risk for OSA," FMCSA said.
As with the 2015 bulletin, any action updating the bulletin is to ensure that medical examiners fully understand their role in screening drivers for OSA, "identifying drivers at the greatest risk of having OSA, and refer only those individuals to a sleep specialist for testing," FMCSA said.
FMCSA also will continue to recommend that drivers and their employers use the North American Fatigue Management Program (NAFMP), which is a voluntary interactive web-based educational and training program developed to provide drivers, carriers and others in the supply chain with an awareness of factors contributing to fatigue and its impact on performance. NAFMP includes guidance on health and wellness, time management, vehicle technologies and scheduling best practices. Module 8 of the program includes a discussion of OSA. (For NAFMP training materials, click here.)