UP Engineer Earns Top Safety Honor

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
UP Locomotive Engineer Wade Wilde, pictured with his wife, Lindsey, has received the railroad’s top safety honor for union employees.

UP Locomotive Engineer Wade Wilde, pictured with his wife, Lindsey, has received the railroad’s top safety honor for union employees.

Union Pacific Locomotive Engineer and TSC (Total Safety Culture) Coordinator Wade Wilde of Ogden, Utah, has received the Class I railroad’s 2020 J.C. Kenefick Safety Award.

The annual award was presented during a virtual ceremony, which UP recently shared on Twitter. Named after former UP Vice Chairman, CEO and President John Kenefick, the award has been the top safety honor for a union employee since 1986. (Kenefick “guided the company into the era deregulation after the passage of the Staggers Act in 1980,” and worked to more than double the railroad’s size through acquisitions and to gain access to the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, UP noted on its website.)

Wilde, the 2020 honoree, is a 16-year railroader who works in the Rocky Mountain Service Unit and is actively involved as a leader in the TSC program. A voluntary employee-led initiative, TSC “teaches employees safe behaviors while providing observations and feedback,” according to UP. “TSC directly empowers our union employees to address at-risk behaviors and receives the full backing of senior management.”

“This is a great honor, and I am super proud to be a recipient of the Kenefick award this year,” Wilde said during the presentation. “And I want to thank my team. I want to thank the Total Safety Culture process that has allowed me to go out and have that peer-to-peer engagement, from our General Manager all the way down to our people in the field doing the work—switching the cars, moving the freight. They’re second to none, and I’m very proud to be part of that team. I wish we could give this award to all of them, and I understand that it’s got to go to somebody, but I want them to know that I’m thinking about them, and it’s their hard work that’s got us to where we are today.”

Wilde said that one of the biggest achievements for his service unit was having more than 90,000 TSC observations in 2020—a 64% increase over 2019.

Reminding teammates of the importance of safety “is really what drives me to do what I do,” said Wilde, who also serves as a mentor. His success in that role comes from “answering the phone, showing up when people need your help, being out there every day,” he explained.

“Wade, we are so proud of you, and the fact that you represent your team in Ogden, the Rocky Mountain Service Unit, the entirety of Union Pacific employees, and what safety means to us and how we work together and rely on each other to run a safe railroad, to reduce our injuries and incidents to zero ultimately, and to support each other in building America,” UP Chairman, President and CEO Lance Fritz said. “You’re a perfect example, a perfect touch bearer for all of us. Thank you.”

Erin Batt, Assistant Vice President and Chief Safety Officer at UP, was one of of Railway Age’s 2021 ‘20 Under 40’ award honorees.

Categories: Class I, Freight, Locomotives, Mechanical, News, Safety Tags: ,