Employees look to continue safety progress in 2017

Employees are dedicated to making 2017 safe.

2016 was a successful safety year.

The railroad’s Frequency/Severity Index was less than 1 percent.

The Belt has made strong strides in safety performance over the last decade, including a downward trend in derailments. Town Hall Meetings, safety training and proactive engagement of the workforce have helped set a new standard. For Director of Police and Risk Management Mike Romano, it starts with dedication to rules compliance. He believes safety culture has been enhanced because communication has been enhanced. Employee attitude is indicative of the manner in which culture has changed.

Details are still being hammered out, but Romano announced that new initiatives are in the works for the safety committee.

One of the new developments will be an expanded skate audit program. Skates stop cars after they are slowed by retarders on the hump. Ensuring they are in good working order and placed in the proper position is the function of the audits. This year there will be 100 such audits as compared to 90 last year.

The committee also is focused on engagement of industries. Romano is excited by the prospect of having safety committee members join track inspectors when they visit customers. While the inspectors examine infrastructure, the committee member will look for opportunities to enhance conditions beyond the track structure.

Outreach will be an important component of the visits. A committee member will talk with customer employees and heighten their awareness of safety issues, such as the importance of tending to vegetation and preventing weeds from compromising the path of travel crews and customer personnel use. Romano believes such a team effort would offer a more comprehensive safety oversight and spread the safety culture to customers. As many customers have their own safety events, it is hoped opportunities for Operation Lifesaver presentations might develop.