Safety is the most important thing we do at BNSF. And as we move toward our safety vision of a workplace free of accidents or injuries, we celebrate our successes, both of teams and individuals.
One of our highest honors is Safety Employees of the Year. For 2021, we recognized four employees, outstanding leaders who are modeling the way in safety across our major Operations teams, including Engineering, Mechanical and Transportation.
These four joined other employees from across our system as they came together in Fort Worth, Tex., on April 25, 2022, to be honored for their outstanding contributions to the company’s success in 2021. Our annual Employees of the Year program is designed to recognize employees who demonstrate BNSF’s Vision and Values through their commitment, leadership and focus on working safely and efficiently to meet customer expectations.
Each of our Safety Employees of the Year is talking the talk, walking the walk and, most important, leading and inspiring others. Here are their stories. (click on their names to access YouTube videos.)
Jason Cox is part of our Northwest Division, where he and his team are a mobile construction crew, like first responders for track and structure repairs. In 2021, they were called to assist following snowstorms, floods and fires that wiped out stretches of track, including bridges and a tunnel. That’s when Cox’s leadership really mattered. Because he has his crew’s respect, they listen and talk about how they’re going to get the job done and do it safely. When not responding to natural disasters, the crew can travel 500 miles a day to assist on infrastructure projects, working side by side with other groups on the division. That means planning ahead and implementing additional safe work practices, together.
For 41 years, Darrell Lippe, based out of Temple, Tex., has been quietly and methodically doing an important job, one that has a lot of responsibilities and challenges. When inspecting and repairing signals, there is no room for a mistake. The lives of our train crews and the public depend on the signal technologies—and the people maintaining them. But Lippe does the work with a positive attitude and, most importantly, safely. During his career, Lippe has been a mentor to many and is the first person they call with questions or advice. Giving his 100% is probably best underscored by Lippe’s safety record: over four decades with the railroad without an injury.
Chris Caven is a machinist at our locomotive shop in Havre, Mont.a, where in 2021 he was made the shop’s machinists trainer. As a trainer, he’s responsible for helping to develop safer processes and tools, and then educating others on how to implement them. Designing and then manufacturing a new tool can take months, if not years. Caven navigates what’s required to get the tool made, often working with the manufacturer to create a new standard. Then he makes sure employees at Havre are trained to use the new tool or implement the new process. He also makes sure our other Mechanical shops have access to the same new tools and processes, ensuring they are equally safe.
Kansas City, Kan., Locomotive Engineer Adam Florine’s safety journey is very personal. When he was 8, his father perished in a train collision. Despite his loss, Florine always wanted to be a railroader, first as a conductor, then engineer on our Chicago Division. He was elected safety coordinator for the division, and collaborated with safety teams to deliver presentations, conduct audits and build relationships—what he considers foundational to safety. He spent countless hours teaching train crews how to upload, navigate and troubleshoot resources on their iPads. When COVID paused in-person training, he used QR codes on posters for employees to access information. The results of his efforts: In 2021, the division’s reportable injuries dropped 35% overall and 42% among our Transportation teams.