KCS’ U.S. engineering team hits safety stride, prepares for continued performance

Written by Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor
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In 2012, Kansas City Sourthern's U.S. engineering department achieved a record low injury frequency ratio.

In a recent story on the railroad’s website, the team shared their thoughts on what actions made the difference and what is planned to continue this safety performance in the year ahead.

Director Track and Bridge Maintenance Danny Cox, said, “The management team is working together to foster a culture that places a greater priority on safety than production. While production is always important, we must take time to make sure the job is performed safely. If we do that, production will closely follow suit.”

Director Production and Standards Shawn Vecellio agreed with Cox and added that education and leadership development are also important.

He said, “Some of our managers have been surprised at the amount of time we’ve spent in the classroom in the past year talking about leadership. They already have great technical expertise. When you add leadership and mentoring techniques to their skill set, it shows up in the safety performance and, at the same time, improves productivity.”

Director Signal Operations Steve Jones was pleased to report that the signal department will achieve five years injury free in April 2013. He attributes that performance to a consistent safety program, high expectations and support from every level of the organization.

“We know that we have support for safety from the top down. Senior leaders in the engineering department are engaged in our safety program. They’re listening to the team and providing guidance. The team in the field sees that support and is committed to working safely every day,” said Jones.

“The engineering team’s safety record didn’t happen by itself,” said Assistant Vice President Engineering Buck Jones. “It takes managers getting out in the field, talking to the team, supporting their efforts with tools and material or explaining the rules when necessary. It also takes field employees taking ownership and putting the safety process in motion.”

Director Safety and Training Ricky Briggs is among the team members making sure the department’s safety program and resulting performance remains strong.

Briggs said, “Our theme for 2013 is no injuries, no incidents and no distractions. Key focus areas will be the One Text or Call Could Wreck It All campaign and the prevention of pinch point injuries and overexertion.”

Briggs added that the training program has expanded in the past year to ensure the team is trained on how to safely operate every piece of equipment. That effort will continue to grow, as will skills training on communicating safety, sharing information about incidents within the industry and extending KCS’ safety guidelines and expectations to contractors.

“The numbers certainly show that it’s been a record year in safety for the engineering team,” said vice president and chief engineer Jeff Songer. “Fostering a culture of safety is something we often discuss as a group. We’ve embraced this and have made safety a part of our everyday life. While we’ve made great progress over the past few years, the most encouraging thing to me is to know that we have the ability, desire and talent to become even better.”

Categories: Class 1, OFF Track Maintenance, Safety/Training