Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Hammond Awards honor UP, South Buffalo Railway employees

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In conjunction with bestowing the Harriman Awards for corporate rail safety on Tuesday in Washington, D.C., industry leaders also took time to honor individual employees notching significant safety achievements, who were honored with the 2011 Harold F. Hammond Award. Receiving recognition for outstanding safety achievement during 2011 were — Joseph Faigl, conductor with Union Pacific Railroad, and Mark Sheffield, mechanical supervisor with the South Buffalo Railway Co.

The Hammond Award 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.

In his 13 injury-free years with UP, Faigl has led several best practices efforts at the Green River, Wyo., yard, and earned UP's highest safety distinction, the 2011 Kenefick Safety Award. In his nomination letter, UP President and CEO Jack Koraleski said Faigl inspires others to create and maintain a safety culture by living what he preaches, precisely following all safety rules and sharing his knowledge with others.

Faigl has led local efforts to re-energize participation in UP's employee-owned Total Safety Culture (TSC) program, increasing overall safety compliance, boosting program participation to 60 percent from 15 percent, lowering incidents by 20 percent, and vaulting the Green River yard from last place to within the top two safety-performing yards in UP's entire system. His guidelines for safe pinning and kicking operations have resulted in an 80 percent reduction in human-factor incidents in the yard.

At Rochester, N.Y.-based South Buffalo Railway Co., Sheffield has served as co-leader of the Buffalo District Safety Improvement Team, and helped keep the 45-person operation injury free since September 2007. In his nomination letter, Genesee & Wyoming Inc. President and CEO John Hellmann cited many examples of Sheffield's consistency in dedication to safety while never missing a day of work in his 14 injury-free years with the company.

As a leader on the company's "Safety Blitzes"— three-person, one day safety audits— many of Sheffield's initiatives involve safely dealing with Buffalo's severe winters and have led to programs now implemented across Genesee & Wyoming's 65 railroads. For example, he launched the annual "Operation Clean Sweep Day" aimed at removing trip-and-fall hazards like litter and debris that can be hidden beneath snow. When lake shore winds turned customer scrap metal into flying debris, Sheffield succeeded in convincing customers to install fences around their scrap yards.

Five other railroad employees also nominated for the award were honored Tuesday with certificates of commendation for their work in enhancing safety, including: Matthew Lehr, switchman at BNSF Railway; Brian Burma, carman at Canadian Pacific; Larry James, division safety coordinator at CSX Transportation; Tom Usnick, locomotive engineer at Kansas City Southern Railway; and Robert Stokes, locomotive engineer at Norfolk Southern.