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  • Writer's pictureKatie Inouye

Grandfathering-in Existing Employees Under 49 CFR Part 243

Do you need to re-train your existing employees under 49 CFR Part 243? The answer is probably not. However, I have talked to several railroads in the last month that thought they did. While I wanted to post this for clarification sooner, I also wanted to do my homework first to seek clarification and understand where the confusion was coming from.

The Requirement

Let's first look at the regulatory language.

By no later than January 1, 2022, each employer ... shall declare the designation of each of its existing safety-related railroad employees by occupational category or subcategory, and only permit designated employees to perform safety-related service in that occupational category or subcategory. §243.201(a)(2)

The regulatory language is clear enough that there is little additional commentary on this requirement in the 243 Compliance Manual. Employers can declare which employees are designated (grandfathered-in) to each of its 243 occupational categories by creating a list of employees or documenting it through their learning management system. In order to do this:

  • Employees must have been qualified prior to May 1, 2021 for the occupational category in which they are designated; and

  • Employers must create a list or other form of documentation by January 1, 2022.

So, why the confusion?

If you were under the impression that you needed to re-train all of your employees, you are not alone. From what I can tell, some of this confusion came from page 22 of the Compliance Manual.

The bottom portion of this page provides guidance for §243.201(c)(2) which provides guidance on the requirements for employees hired after May 1st but previously qualified. To be sure, I confirmed with FRA that this is the case.

One important note

While you can grandfather-in existing employees under 243, you still need to comply with current FRA training regulations. For example, you should have training records that demonstrate compliance with training requirements currently in place. These training requirements and programs from before May 1st do not need to meet the 243 standards but there should be some documentation on previous programs (QMI training, on-track safety, crane operators, etc.).

Are you still feeling stuck on your 243 training programs or not sure how to get started? We can help! We have helped Class 1, short line, and regional railroads, and contractors prepare for 243. Contact us at

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