In the U.S. transportation industry, railroads lead in workplace safety, and Norfolk Southern is a leader in rail safety. The injury ratio by sector is shown here from 2010 to 2013, the latest year available, from data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The ratio is based on number of injuries per 200,000 employee-hours worked.
|Water transportation (ships, barges, boats)||3.2||2.0||2.1||2.5|
|Injuries Per 200,000 Employee Hours||1.08||0.89||0.75||0.81||1.17||1.21|
|Employees Who Lost at Least One Work Day Due to Injury||241||195||164||175||232||236|
Norfolk Southern, with approximately 30,000 employees, experienced an increase of 12 reportable injuries in 2014 over the previous year, a rise of 3.5 percent, to 349. More than 40 percent of the injuries were identified as strains, such as by overexertion.
The railroad operates 24/7, and many operations employees work outdoors in inclement weather. Their jobs require walking on rock ballast and working around large moving pieces of equipment. Those conditions contribute to slips, trips, and falls, the most common reportable injuries at Norfolk Southern. During 2014, the company saw a jump in reportable injuries during severe winter weather in the first quarter of 2014 that brought snow, ice, and days of subfreezing weather.
As defined by the Federal Railroad Administration, injuries are reportable if an employee requires medical treatment or receives prescription medication, a physician’s recommendation for restricted activity, or a physician’s recommendation to take time off from work.
In 2014, Mechanical Department employees, who maintain and repair locomotives and rail cars, had the lowest number of injuries per 200,000 employee-hours worked among the company’s three largest operations departments. Following closely were Engineering Department employees responsible for installing and maintaining track and track infrastructure, including signals, bridges, and railroad structures. Transportation Department employees, who include locomotive engineers and conductors, recorded the highest ratio of injuries.
Every year, employees demonstrate that Norfolk Southern’s goal of zero work injuries is achievable. During 2014, employees at five work locations across the system reached 1 million consecutive hours without a reportable injury. Achieving the accomplishment were: Portsmouth, Ohio, Mechanical Department car shop employees; the Dearborn Division communications and signals group; the Conway, Pa., Locomotive Shop; the Elkhart, Ind., Locomotive Shop; and the Altoona, Pa., district train and engine crews.
For perspective, 1 million employee hours equates to 500 employees working reportable injury-free for 50 40-hour weeks.
In April 2014, the approximately 200 train and engine employees on the Piedmont Division’s Charlotte South District celebrated two years of service without a reportable injury.
The achievement represented a significant turnaround in safety performance for a district that in 2010 had the highest number of injuries on the railroad. Employees at the district’s crew reporting locations — Gainesville, Chamblee, Toccoa, and Inman, Ga., and Greenville, S.C. — used positive reinforcement, coaching, and a focus on preventing the most common source of injuries — slips and trips while mounting or dismounting locomotives and rail cars.
Seven types of injuries, with strains the most common, accounted for 85 percent of all reportable injuries at Norfolk Southern in 2014: