MTA Audit of LIRR Shows Excessive Work Hours and Severe Fatigue

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
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Photo: MTA Long Island Rail Road / Celia Liao

LONG ISLAND – The Metropolitan Transportation Authority released a report detailing LIRR’s excessive work hours and the risk of worker fatigue.

Acting MTA Inspector General Elizabeth Keating released a 21-page report outlining an audit of Long Island Rail Road. Citing excessive a June 2017 work incident where a Track Foreman was killed by an oncoming train due to fatigue as its chief example, the risk involves “working implausibly long and continuous hours” and “the risk that employees pose to themselves, their colleagues, and the railroad’s assets”. Keating goes on to say that “Railroad management is also concerned and plans to take constructive actions to vigilantly manage excessive work hours”. 

The audit found that “LIRR Engineering employees 7% of all their reported hours at risk of severe fatigue [and] 267 Track employees worked 24 hours or longer on 4,375 occasions”. Lasting 18 months and ending last June, the OIG “studied which groups of LIRR employees regularly work long hours, the factors that drive up the number of excessive hours worked, and what the LIRR can do to reduce these hours”. 

While reducing these hours is a “Herculean task”, the report asserts that “the problem is compounded by the current capital program that requires labor in the evenings and weekends”. Along with scheduling situations, hiring freezes, and post-pandemic employment rates, there is not enough staff to cover the hours needed. The FRA took action in July 2022, and the LIRR is currently “in the process of developing its fatigue risk program and aims to finalize and submit it to the FRA by July 2023”. 

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