O’Brien joins Safety Committee

Signalman Jim O’Brien

Signalman Jim O’Brien will represent his craft on the Safety Committee.

He relishes the opportunity.

“I’m safety-oriented,” he said. “I feel strongly about safety as it’s something that benefits everyone on the railroad.”

He believes getting more work groups involved will enhance the conversation and facilitate communication, which will further boost the Belt’s safety profile.

With the Safety Committee bridging gaps, a tight-knit group is bound to get tighter.

“It’s a small railroad and everyone is like family,” O’Brien said. “We’re good in terms of our safety profile, but there’s always room for improvement.”

Through innovation and proactive attitudes, the railroad will become even safer. The use of track and time authority booklets has helped. During job briefings, Engineering employees write down potential exposures and risks in the booklets and how they’ll mitigate them. The process foments discussion, allows employees to vocalize potential concerns and helps them visualize a safe day. This enhances situational awareness, O’Brien said.

Signalmen work in bungalows sometimes, the lion’s share of their day is worked outdoors.

“It can be tough,” he said. “There’s a lot of potential weather issues.”

O’Brien notes that using the right winter gear and taking breaks are keys to avoiding frostbite and other maladies related to cold temperatures. He said that he avoids stepping on ties, even in the fall when morning frost can make them slippery. O’Brien also believes that hydration is something that should not be overlooked in the winter.