Healthy Living

Sleep Apnea and Engineers: Is It Safe to Travel by Train?

The best form of treatment for sleep apnea is with a CPAP machine.

Treatments for obstructive sleep apnea decrease both fatigue and accident risks. Once sleep apnea is diagnosed, operators in the trucking, airlines, and marine industries are required to prove ongoing and routine use of the prescribed treatment to obtain a medical certificate and get back on the job.

Treatments with CPAP or a bi-level positive airway pressure device recommendations for truck drivers states the “minimum acceptable average use of CPAP is 4 hours within a 24-hour period." Pilots must demonstrate that they use their prescribed treatments 75% of the time with an average minimum of 6 hours per sleep period.

Until now, the treatment or evaluation of sleep disorders that might interfere with the safe operation of a train has not been required. Because of this, the NTSB is now recommending that enhancements to occupational medical evaluations be conducted and include diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea.