The E.H. Harriman Awards are ending, but Norfolk Southern Railway’s long Group A winning streak didn’t come to an end in the safety award program’s swan song. Yesterday, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced NS won the Group A gold award for the 23rd straight year. The AAR plans to retire the E.H. Harriman Awards after this year’s presentation and create a new program designed to encourage the sharing of best rail-safety practices across the industry.
The other winners in Group A, which honors railroads that log 15 million manhours or more annually, were CSX Transportation, which took the silver award, and Union Pacific Railroad, which received bronze.
In Group B, which recognizes railroads that log 4 million to 15 million manhours, the gold award went to Kansas City Southern Railway Co. for the sixth year in a row, while CN’s U.S. operations took silver and Metra captured the bronze.
Winners in Group C — railroads that register between 250,000 and 4 million manhours — include the Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad (gold); Portland & Western Railroad (silver); and Florida East Coast Railway L.L.C. (bronze). In Group S&T, which recognizes switching and terminal companies logging more than 250,000 manhours, the Union Railway took gold, Belt Railway Co. of Chicago won silver and Birmingham Southern Railroad grabbed bronze.
The AAR also recognized one railroad in each category for showing the most improvement in injury rates between 2010 and 2011: BNSF Railway Co. in Group A, Florida East Coast Railway in Group C and the Belt Railway Co. of Chicago in Group S&T. No award was given in Group B.
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. The awards are administered by the E.H. Harriman Memorial Awards Institute with support from the Mary W. Harriman Foundation. All data is documented by the Federal Railroad Administration.
Meanwhile, the AAR also named UP Conductor Joseph Faigl and South Buffalo Railway Co. Mechanical Supervisor Mark Sheffield the winners of the Harold F. Hammond Award for 2011.
The Harold F. Hammond Award recognizes an individual railroad employee who has demonstrated outstanding safety achievement in the preceding year. Established in 1986, it is named for the late Harold F. Hammond, a former Transportation Association of America president who served many years as chairman of the Harriman Awards selection committee.
During his 13-year, injury-free career with UP, Faigl has led several best practices efforts at the railroad’s Green River, Wyo., yard, and earned the 2011 Kenefick Safety Award, UP’s highest safety distinction. He led local efforts to re-energize participation in the Class I’s employee-owned Total Safety Culture program, increasing overall safety compliance, boosting program participation from 15 percent to 60 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, AAR officials said in a prepared statement.
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, they said. He also leads “safety blitzes” — three-person, one-day safety audits — and launched an annual “Operation Clean Sweep Day” aimed at removing trip-and-fall hazards, such as litter and debris that can be hidden beneath snow.
The AAR also honored five other rail employees with certificates of commendation for their efforts to enhance safety: Matthew Lehr, a BNSF switchman; Brian Burma, a Canadian Pacific carman; Larry James, a CSXT division safety coordinator; Tom Usnick, a KCS locomotive engineer; and Robert Stokes, an NS locomotive engineer.
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