However FMCSA said it will consider an update to its existing sleep apnea guidance Photo Dear Dcotor

However, FMCSA said it will consider an update to its existing sleep apnea guidance. (Photo: Dear Dcotor)

Sleep apnea rulemaking is no more … for now

Two federal agencies abandon efforts to craft sleep apnea regulations for transportation workers, including truck drivers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) have both decided to table regulatory efforts aimed at the testing and treatment of sleep apnea for truck drivers and other transportation workers.

“The agencies believe that current safety programs and FRA’s rulemaking addressing fatigue risk management are the appropriate avenues to address [obstructive sleep apnea],” according to a Federal Register posting.

In March 2016, the agencies published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking and sought feedback whether mandatory screening should be required for certain workers. That came after a joint study by the University of Pennsylvania and sponsored by FMCSA and the American Transportation Research Institute that found about 28 percent of commercial truck drivers suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea.

“Studies show that people with untreated sleep apnea have an increased risk of being involved in a fatigue-related motor vehicle crash,” according to information still posted on FMCSA’s web site.

The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended screening of truckers for sleep apnea for many years. NTSB spokesman Christopher O’Neil told Bloomberg News the agency was “disappointed” with this decision.

FMCSA said it will consider an update to its existing sleep apnea guidance. That potentially could include recommendations made last fall by two agency advisory committees that called for truckers with a body mass index 40 or higher be flagged for screening, and those with a BMI of 33 or higher be subject to screening if they meet certain other criteria.

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