The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) and the FRA (Federal Railroad Administration) are both considering taking first steps to address potential OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) testing for truck drivers and railway operators. Currently, the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) has made recommendations to the Department of Transportation (DOT), that there should be specific processes in place for the screening and treatment of those in the transportation industry for sleep apnea.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
OSA is a condition where you stop breathing, briefly, while you sleep. There can be several causes, such as being overweight, having high blood pressure, or smoking, which can contribute to causing OSA. When breathing stops, the muscles in the chest and diaphragm work harder to force the body to take in air.
Most people are not aware they suffer from this condition, yet it is estimated that more than twenty percent of people working in the transportation industry suffer from OSA. In addition, a person with OSA who gets a full eight hours of sleep tends to be less rested, compared to a person getting four hours of continuous, uninterrupted sleep.
Why Test Transportation Operators?
The underlying symptoms of OSA include several symptoms that can impact those driving trucks or operating trains. People with OSA can experience fatigue, feel tired, and have problems concentrating, and they are more prone to drifting off to sleep during their normal waking hours. As such, truck drivers and railway operators who have OSA present higher safety risks.
The FMSCA and FRA have opened up taking comments for the next three months as to how mandatory testing would impact the transportation industry. Should mandatory OSA testing be implemented, it would become part of regular medical screenings for medical certifications required in the transportation industry.
While it may be some time before mandatory testing is required, if you are a truck driver or train operator, it does not hurt to get your own diagnosis and treatment to help reduce the potential of falling asleep on the job. For all of your replacement seat needs, please feel free to contact Suburban Seating & Safety today by calling (844)SAS-SEAT or 844-727-7328.