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5/21/2009


Rail News: Rail Industry Trends
AAR hands out annual Harriman, Hammond safety awards



Make it an even 20 straight gold Harriman awards for Norfolk Southern Corp. Yesterday, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced winners of the 2008 E.H. Harriman Memorial Safety Awards, and the Class I earned top Group A honors for the 20th-consecutive year.

Founded in 1913 by the late Mary W. Harriman in memory of her husband, railroad pioneer Edward H. Harriman, the awards recognize railroads that achieved the lowest casualty rates per 200,000 manhours — a formula that takes into account the volume of work performed, as well as the number of fatalities, injuries and occupational illnesses confirmed by the Federal Railroad Administration. The AAR hands out 12 gold, silver and bronze awards in four categories. The awards are administered by the E.H. Harriman Memorial Awards Institute with support from the Mary W. Harriman Foundation.

In Group A, comprising line-haul railroads whose employees worked 15 million manhours or more last year, CSX Transportation took silver and Union Pacific Railroad won bronze behind NS’ gold.

In Group B, recognizing line-haul railroads whose employees worked 4 to 15 million manhours, Kansas City Southern Railway Co. won gold for the third-straight year. Canadian Pacific’s U.S. operations took silver and Metra won bronze.

Winners in Group C — line-haul railroads whose employees worked less than 4 million manhours — included the Willamette & Pacific Railroad, gold; Florida East Coast Railway, silver; and Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Co., bronze.

For Group S&T, which recognizes switching and terminal companies, the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis took home gold for the second-consecutive year. The silver went to the Birmingham Southern Railroad and bronze to Conrail.

The AAR also awarded certificates of commendation to four railroads for continuous gains in employee safety improvements over a three-year period and for showing the most improvement between 2007 and 2008: CSXT (Group A), MTA Metro-North Railroad (Group B), Wheeling & Lake Erie (Group C) and the Belt Railway of Chicago (S&T).

"Safety is the railroad industry's top priority," said AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger in a prepared statement. "I am delighted to report that [railroads’] continuous emphasis on safety paid dividends last year in producing both the lowest train accident rate in history and the lowest employee injury rate.”

Meanwhile, the AAR named BNSF Railway Co.’s Robert Johnson the 2008 winner of the Harold F. Hammond Award for railroad safety. Established in 1986, the award recognizes a rail employee who demonstrates outstanding safety achievement during the preceding year.  The award is named for the late Harold F. Hammond, a former Transportation Association of America president who had served many years as chairman of the Harriman Awards selection committee.

A machinist with more than 36 years of service at BNSF, Johnson has participated in and developed numerous projects and innovations, including bi-directional blue flags for worker protection, a universal fit locomotive stairwell platform, a structurally engineered traction motor storage rack and locomotive cab window removal tool and process, which all contributed to safety and operational efficiency, the AAR said.
 
Johnson also volunteers for Operation Lifesaver and serves as a safety trainer and a liaison to emergency responders in several communities.
 
The AAR also honored seven other rail employees with certificates of commendation for enhancing safety: David Cowan, an Amtrak superintendent; Gary Deval, a CN conductor; Trevor Shatek, a CP signal maintainer; Larry Davis, a CSXT electrician; Ronnie Benefield, a KCSR carman; Jerry Bean, an NS engineer; and Israel Maldonado, a UP carman.

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