RAC Recognizes Members for SafetyWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Five Railway Association of Canada (RAC) members have earned awards for their commitment to safety.
RAC’s annual Safety Awards “recognize members that go above and beyond” to help make rail “the safest mode of transportation from coast to coast,” the association reported on Nov. 28. Freight and passenger railroads are selected by the Safety and Operations Management Committee (SOMC), which reports to RAC’s Board of Directors.
“Safety is job one for Canadian railways,” said Marc Brazeau, President and CEO of RAC, which represents close to 60 railroads. “Every day, in communities across Canada, more than 33,000 railroaders work to deliver goods to market and people to where they are looking to go, safely.”
And the 2022 Safety Award winners are:
• CN, for its Electronic Track Authority Verification (ETAV) Navigation Tool: CN’s senior field safety advisory group in spring 2020 took on a challenge: “use the latest technology to reduce Main Track Authority Violations (MTAV) and improve on-track employee safety,” according to RAC. Since an off-the-shelf solution did not exist for the railroad’s desired use case, the CN Engineering, I&T Operational Technology and Safety teams developed their own, rolling it out 18 months later to provide “a new layer of protection for hundreds of employees and on-track vehicles daily,” RAC reported.
According to CN, the “Electronic Track Authority Verification (ETAV) navigation tool provides precise location information to Engineering hi-rail operators and warns them prior to exceeding their Track Authority limits. MTAV are caused by hi-rail trucks being outside authorized boundaries. ETAV complements existing processes that hi-rail operators use to get permission from rail traffic controllers to access and work on tracks. Operators log onto the ETAV application, and can see their precise location within their authorized track limits. Their truck’s exact position is monitored in real-time through a Global Navigation Satellite System. As they approach the limits of their Track Authority, ETAV sends them auditory and visual alerts.” The ETAV navigation aid is currently installed on more than 2,000 engineering hi-rail trucks, with plans to be deployed across CN’s entire network in 2022, the Class I railroad reported.
“This tool integrates multiple systems and the latest technology to keep our field teams safe every day, providing an audible warning as employees approach the limits of their track authority,” said Rahim Karmali, Chief, Engineering Technology and Supply Chain, at CN.
“I like the confidence ETAV brings,” said David Baldock, Thermite Welding Foreman, Mountain Region, who has been with CN for 13 years. “Knowing where I am on track at all times not only makes my job safer but a lot easier to find track conditions.”
• Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC), for its Operation Lifesaver Decals Initiative: The railroad outfitted all Rail Infrastructure Department vehicles with decals printed with Operation Lifesaver’s “Look, listen, live” safety message.
“Signal Maintainer Shawn Harman enthusiastically brought forward this idea recognizing that adding decals was a low-cost and effective way to reach people as these vehicles are highly visible in Northern Ontario,” ONTC Director of Rail Infrastructure Paul-André Lajeunesse said.
Operation Lifesaver not only appreciated the idea, but also shared it with the Operation Lifesaver network and included it in its annual report.
• Southern Railway of British Columbia (SRY), for its Field Level Risk Assessment Forms: The initiative involves standardizing the process for assessing hazards in the field prior to starting work and the control measures for mitigating or avoiding risk, according to RAC. The risk assessment forms are customized to manage risks across the company in key activity areas: job briefing and risk assessment in Operations; field level risk assessment in Mechanical; and contractor field-level risk assessment for third-party contractors.
The forms are part of SRY’s three-tier risk assessment process, RAC reported. The first tier of risk assessment involves executive leaders and department managers; the second, supervisors; and the third, field-level employees who are directly engaged in performing work.
“Conducting field-level risk assessments have always been a part of working safely,” said Emily Mak, Director, Corporate Affairs and General Counsel for SRY. “What this initiative adds is a systematic process that focuses people on the sequential steps in a risk assessment, and engages people to proactively identify the risks and implement control measures to prevent accidents and incidents.”
• Metrolinx, for its System Safety Assurance (SSA) Program: Metrolinx developed and launched a SSA Program, which “provides a robust, transparent, auditable and documented Governance Framework for both business-as-usual and change projects,” according to RAC. Metrolinx also instituted certification and performance committees to facilitate the system safety acceptance process and to obtain and maintain approval (consent to operate). The SSA Program also includes the development of a safety risk model and “easy-to-use online significance assessment tool to inform risk-based decision-making, in addition to new training to ensure consistent implementation results,” RAC reported.
“Safety is our top priority and is embedded in everything we do, and we will continue to work with staff and partners to raise standards and reduce incidents,” said Martin Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer (GO Transit and UP Express) and Chief Safety and Security Officer at Metrolinx.
• VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail), for its Simulator Training Program and Facilities Initiative: “After years of research, trend analysis and close collaboration with its provider, VIA Rail developed unique, ultra-realistic simulators to recreate railway occurrences,” RAC said. “VIA Rail analyzed incidents across North America and focused on causes and contributing factors to develop tools to simulate and teach safety-related best practices thus mitigating and minimizing human factor-based incidents. These practical, realistic scenarios allow students to better identify and manage their own cognitive vulnerabilities and ensure they remain focused on the tasks at hand.” The program, which started in 2015, wrapped up with the commissioning of VIA Rail’s final phase of simulators and training facilities in 2021.
“The program breaks the standard mold of training student locomotive engineers, as it expands its focus beyond conventional train handling principles,” VIA Rail President and CEO Martin R. Landry said. “By creating an immersive training environment and centering our attention on crew resource management (CRM) principles, VIA is able to provide additional training value and increased safety for our passengers and crew.”