Opinion: Safety first? Or privacy first?

By David Schanoes, Contributing Editor, Railway Age Magazine; July 9, 2019

I have this friend, a railroad professional. I know I would never question his commitment to safety. I hope he wouldn’t question mine. This friend is concerned that railroad management will unfairly use medical information it obtains from employees, from employees’ medical care providers, and from the requirements of a medical fitness for duty regulation, to disqualify employees from service. He fears railroads will weaponize the information.

This is not an unfounded or completely irrational fear. About 30 years ago, I witnessed railroad managers use drug and alcohol testing to “scare” employees.

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