DOT Withdraws Sleep Apnea Rule

Two agencies within the Department of Transportation announced Aug. 4 that they will no longer pursue a regulation concerning obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), determining that current safety programs and other rules addressing fatigue are more appropriate avenues.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration officially withdrew a March 10, 2016, advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) concerning the prevalence of moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea among individuals occupying safety sensitive positions in highway and rail transportation.

The withdrawal of the ANPRM marks yet another attempt by the Trump Administration to reduce red tape and scale back regulatory policies. The Administration in February directed each federal agency to develop a task force to identify costly and “job-killing” regulations that could be scaled back.

In its Federal Register notice announcing the withdraw of the ANPRM, DOT said OSA remains an on-going 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 agencies said that they determined not to issue an NPRM at this time, however, because they “believe that current safety programs and FRA’s rulemaking addressing fatigue risk management are the appropriate avenues to address OSA.”

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