New potential sleep apnea rule might mandate worker testing

In September 2016, two federal government agencies took feedback on a proposal designed to study obstructive sleep apnea among transit operators. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration received a significant number of public comments about the advisability of their plans.

According to studies, around 28 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers suffer from OSA. The disorder can result in respiratory disturbances while drivers sleep. Although some believe this negatively affects the quality of a driver's rest and potentially increases the likelihood that they'll have trouble staying alert while they're driving, others disagree. One truck drivers' group noted that the FMCSA hadn't yet established a causal link between OSA and actual wrecks.

Some early indications and public responses seem to suggest that the agencies want to impose stricter controls on medical testing and evaluation criteria for determining whether workers are fit to drive. Although most respondents were of the opinion that fatigue was a safety, they disagreed with the idea that these parties or their employers should be made to foot the bill for OSA testing. Diagnosing and treating such sleeping disorders can carry medical costs in the thousands of dollars.

Big rig accidents can result in catastrophic injuries to occupants of other vehicles that are involved in the collision. The required medical care and treatment can be lengthy and expensive, and accident victims may not be able to return to their jobs. When such a collision is caused by a driver who was dozing at the wheel, an attorney could assist victims in seeking compensation for their losses.

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