The Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) will develop training and education efforts to address and enhance railroad safety culture following the completion of a systematic review of Safety Culture Assessments.
The study was conducted by Volpe, the National Transportation Systems Center from aggregated Safety Culture Assessment results during a pilot program and first year of SLSI operations. SLSI says the study pointed to three measurement categories that particularly influence a positive safety culture, as well as areas for further improvement.
“With a full year of safety culture assessments to draw upon, we’ve confirmed that the concept and benefits of a strong safety culture is understood and highly valued among shortline and regional railroads,” said Doc Claussen, chairman of the Board of Directors of SLSI. “The results also show that there are areas where the Safety Institute can be particularly helpful, including providing systems for reporting the resolution of safety concerns, programs for coaching and mentoring, procedures for reviewing the rules and tools to ensure the consistent communication of formal discipline practices.”
The three “theme areas” the assessment identified as having a strong influence on safety culture include management presence, encouraging participation and evidence of safety values. SLSI notes that within each theme, frequency of response showed the prevalence of strengths, gaps and opportunities in safety culture across the railroads studied.
Railroad employees favorably reported practices such as:
- Employee ability to approach management with a safety concern
- Mutual trust among employees
- Availability of personal protective equipment
- Job briefings
- Accountability and responsibility for safety
- Formal safety training
- Helping co-workers
Based on the results of the study, education, training and communication plans will be updated by the SLSI to address opportunities identified, including:
- Systems for reporting safety resolutions
- Mentoring training
- Leadership/management training
- Procedure for reviewing company rules and procedures
- Quantity and quality of safety communications
SLSI is a non-profit corporation dedicated to being a resource on education, training and research regarding safety culture and other safety initiatives for shortline and regional railroads. In addition to the safety assessment, SLSI evaluated the assessment process to offer feedback contributing to the strong and scientifically sound methodology employed by the SLSI in its assessments of participating shortline and regional railroads.
“The team is constantly evaluating our processes and the results to identify areas where we can be even more valuable to the short line and regional railroad industry, through training, toolkits, and recommended procedures – all to meet our mission of enhancing the safety culture and safety performance of short line and regional railroads,” said Tom Murta, executive director of SLSI.