The Tri-State Oversight Committee has released a study done in conjunction with Metro regarding WMATA's management of fatigue-related safety isssues. The results of the study are both illuminating and disturbing.

The illumination stems from the revelation that Metro employees in critical safety jobs routinely work 16-hours days. We are not merely talking about five 16-hour days but in two instances, seven 16-hour days in a row. This has led to an employee of Metro's automated train control division stating that he was "constantly fixing mistakes" owing to poor work quality resulting in part from fatigue.

Obviously this is disturbing and may in part explain such occurrences as the June 22, 2009 Fort Totten Metro crash along with a rash of other injurious and hazardous incidents observed across the last several years.

Evidently this phenomenon is in part the result of efforts to repair Metro's ill-maintained rail system and in part because Metro employees like the overtime and its beneficial impact on their retirements. The obvious question is,  why shouldn't Metro hire more employees? The benefits of such a practice seem obvious.

Shorter hours reduce the likelihood of fatigue-induced safety mistakes, more employees means less unemployed people, new employees are paid far less than long term employees working 40 hours a week of overtime and of course more new employees means that Metro's highly experineced and skilled long time workers can pass on their knowledge and experience to a new generation.

It seems like a no-brainer that more workers being paid considerably less saves Metro money and makes the system safer.

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