Re: This is the backhoe accident right?
Date: 10-12-2017 - 08:35
It is an interesting article and headline, but as someone who has dealt with this issue and had training on testing, the story is a bit odd.
The engineers actions, thus far, as far as I know at present, have not been faulted. And, the presence of minute amounts of marijuana, from long past use, is not an indication of a level sufficient to produce immediate intoxication and/or impairment. The chemical tracings from marijuana can last a week to a month after use, depending on the persons metabolism and the sensitivity of the testing protocols.
IIRC this accident occurred because of a failure of the track crew to properly remove equipment from fouling the mainline, thus striking the passing train.
Again, IIRC. I thought the track workers may have been contractors, and were not Amtrak employee's subject to testing by Amtrak, or covered under current Federal testing requirements? These guys were old and had been in a back breaking industry for years, so it may not be that surprising to find traces of opiates in folks that age.
The use of the odd phrasing that "cocaine or opiates" were found in the track workers is troubling. Because this would appear to indicate that there were such small amounts that it made specific identification of which specific drugs too difficult to determine in the tests, as is the case with these much faster metabolizing substances, long after use.
Though this makes for a melodramatic headline, there still appears to be no indication as to if these detectable but possibly very minute levels of drugs that were detected in any way affected their performance at the time of the accident. And, as much of the rest of the article does explain, this is not widespread in the RR industry.
I believe the proposed change in testing regulations made by Obama, referred to in the article, has less to do with the substances being tested for, than expanding testing to contractors on the property, not now covered under the current regulations.