Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Harriman Awards: NS streak at 22

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According to the Association of American Railroads, 2010 “was the safest year ever for railroads, with significant reductions achieved in train accidents and employee casualties.” And for the 22nd year in a row, the Norfolk Southern Thoroughbred galloped away with the gold.

harriman-gold.gifThe industry today honored the railroads’ safety achievements at the annual E.H. Harriman Awards, recognizing carriers in four categories with the best employee safety records. Harriman winners were selected by a committee of representatives from the transportation field and were granted on the basis of the lowest casualty rates per 200,000 employee-hours worked. All data is documented by the Federal Railroad Administration.

In Group A, comprising linehaul railroads whose employees worked 15 million employee-hours or more, Norfolk Southern received its 22nd consecutive gold award. CSX Transportation won the silver award, and Union Pacific the bronze award.

In Group B, linehaul railroads whose employees worked 4 to 15 million employee-hours, the gold award went to Kansas City Southern for the fifth year in a row. The silver award went to Canadian Pacific (U.S. Operations), while the bronze went to Canadian National (U.S. Operations).

Group C includes railroads whose employees worked between 250,000 and 4 million employee-hours. The gold award went to the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad, while the Missouri & Northern Arkansas Railroad took the silver and the Paducah & Louisville Railway the bronze.

In Group S&T, switching and terminal companies with more than 250,000 employee-hours, the Gary Railway took the gold, while the silver award went to the Port Terminal Railroad Association and the Union Railroad received the bronze award.

One railroad in each category was honored for showing the most improvement in injury rates between 2009 and 2010. Awards went to CSX Transportation (Group A); CN, U.S. Operations (Group B); Pacific Harbor Line (Group C); and the Port Terminal Railroad Association (S&T).

In 2010, train accidents on U.S. Class I freight railroads were down 3% with the rate per-million-train-miles falling 9.6% from the previous record established in 2009. The number of employee casualties on U.S. Class I’s fell by 14.2%, while the employee casualty rate measured per-hundred full-time equivalent employees declined 16% from the previous record set in 2009.

“It is the tremendous dedication and hard work of our employees that makes rail the safest mode of transportation today,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “Our industry continuously invests, innovates, improves, and implements systems and technology that make our business ever safer.”

The Harriman Awards were established by the late Mrs. Mary W. Harriman in memory of her husband, Edward H. Harriman, whom the ARR refers to as “an American legend in railroading.” Today, the awards are administered by the E.H. Harriman Memorial Awards Institute, with support from the Mary W. Harriman Foundation.

Harold F. Hammond Award

John Kirwan, a machinist with Union Pacific in Hinkle, Ore., was named the 2010 winner of the Harold F. Hammond Award. “Under his leadership, UP’s Hinkle facility has achieved more than 1,400 injury-free days in 2010 and an FRA reportable injury rate of zero since January 2007, the equivalent of more than 1.7 million working employee hours,” AAR said.

In nominating him for the Hammond Award, UP Chairman, President, and CEO Jim Young described Kirwan as “a coach and mentor whose safety-first attitude is contagious and inspirational to other employees. Elected by his peers to lead the facility’s safety efforts, he has worked hard to consistently raise the bar and create a culture of safety at the Hinkle facility. As a Total Safety Culture facilitator, his enthusiasm, expertise, and energy has helped to increased employee participation in the program from 33% to 96% over the course of two years. Known for his innovative and proactive approach to safety, Kirwan developed the facility’s Smoke Detector Program, which is based on the concept that analysis of employee safety observations can help to address small problems before they become big ones. He also has worked to implement a terminal-wide emergency alert system that will go online at the end of 2011. In addition, Kirwan actively participates in LEAN continuous improvement initiatives and in Hinkle’s Critical 5 Team, which establishes best-practice procedures for safe working habits. In recognition of his efforts, he has been honored with the State of Oregon’s Safety and Health Professional Award for outstanding achievement in workplace safety and health. He has also been awarded a Washington State grant for leadership training, enabling almost 90% of the employees at the Hinkle facility to complete the training.”

Seven other railroad employees were honored with Certificates of Commendation for their work in enhancing safety. They are Nelson Beveridge, conductor for CN; Claude Fields, machinist with Amtrak; John Hebda, carman with CSX Transportation; Jesse Jackson, section foreman with Kansas City Southern Railway; Rick Spears, locomotive engineer for BNSF Railway; Monty Wilkerson, locomotive engineer with Norfolk Southern Corp.; and Bruce Wold, track inspector for Canadian Pacific.

The Harold F. Hammond Award was established in 1986 and honors an individual railroad employee who has demonstrated outstanding safety achievement during the preceding year. It is named after the late Harold F. Hammond, former president of the Transportation Association of America, who served many years as chairman of the Harriman Awards selection committee.