NS takes home another Harriman Gold Medal

Discussion relating to the NS operations. Official web site can be found here: NSCORP.COM.
User avatar
MEC407
Posts: 10962
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:15 pm

NS takes home another Harriman Gold Medal

Post by MEC407 » Fri May 22, 2009 12:07 pm

For the 20th year in a row, NS won a gold Harriman Safety Award. Kudos to NS employees!

More info, including winners in other categories, at http://www.progressiverailroading.com/n ... p?id=20464
MEC407
Moderator:
Pan Am Railways — Boston & Maine/Maine Central — Delaware & Hudson
Central Maine & Quebec/Montreal, Maine & Atlantic/Bangor & Aroostook
Providence & Worcester — New England — GE Locomotives

nsroadcond
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2007 1:55 pm
Location: TN

Re: NS takes home another Harriman Gold Medal

Post by nsroadcond » Tue May 26, 2009 9:25 am

Its amazing what 25% harassment + 25% idiocy + 50% of pure stupidity equals. I guess all those surprise rules checks paid off for us, huh? :-)
But seriously, NS doesn't deserve it more than any other railroad, they just figured out how to lie better under the guise of "pencil-whipping"

User avatar
MEC407
Posts: 10962
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:15 pm

Re: NS takes home another Harriman Gold Medal

Post by MEC407 » Thu May 19, 2011 12:14 pm

They won gold again this year (22nd year in a row):

http://www.railwayage.com/breaking-news ... -3156.html
MEC407
Moderator:
Pan Am Railways — Boston & Maine/Maine Central — Delaware & Hudson
Central Maine & Quebec/Montreal, Maine & Atlantic/Bangor & Aroostook
Providence & Worcester — New England — GE Locomotives

Allen Hazen
Posts: 2484
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 10:14 pm
Location: Edmonton, Canada (formerly Melbourne, Australia)

Re: NS takes home another Harriman Gold Medal

Post by Allen Hazen » Thu May 19, 2011 5:50 pm

Since Kansas City Southern is in Group B, I take it that the only contestants for the Group A award are the four biggest railroad companies? So BNSF would be the only one that didn't get some sort of medal.
--
Re: NSroadcond's comment around this time in 2009. NS has long had the reputation of being more "military" and authoritarian in its management style than other big railroads. (I've been reading Rush Loving's book "The Men who Loved Trains" about northeastern railroad in the 1960s--1990s: NS's "corporate culture" was a relevant issue in the negotiations leading to the split of Conrail between NS and CSX, many CR employees not wanting to be taken over by NS.) So I've wondered how to interpret its long "winning streak" in the Harriman awards. Possibilities that come to mind include:
A--- that authoritarian style is actually effective in reducing accidents
B--- that authoritarian style leads NS staff to be reluctant to report injuries
C--- there's some OTHER factor (environment in which the NS operates?), unrelated to management style, that accounts for it
---
C would be surprising: after all, CSX and NS operate in the same parts of the country, so hire from the same labor market and operate in the same weather conditions.

As to B, the article MEC407 links to says the award was based on FRA data. So, if B is the case, NS has to be encouraging literally criminal failure to report reportable stuff to the relevant federal regulators.

As to A... well, a controlling management style that makes for safe operations doesn't have to be one that makes the company pleasant to work for: as a total outsider, I'm at least willing to consider it as a possibility that "all those surprise rules checks" DO "pay off" for NS. But, to repeat, I'm a total outsider, and, frankly, I am just PUZZLED how one company(*) has managed to dominate the "safety stakes" for so long.
---
(*) Before the NS merger, didn't N&W have quite a series of Harrimans? In which case the "winning streak" for N&W and corporate successor is even more amazing.

Gadfly
Posts: 1198
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 11:28 pm

Re: NS takes home another Harriman Gold Medal

Post by Gadfly » Fri May 20, 2011 10:20 am

Allen Hazen wrote:Since Kansas City Southern is in Group B, I take it that the only contestants for the Group A award are the four biggest railroad companies? So BNSF would be the only one that didn't get some sort of medal.
--
Re: NSroadcond's comment around this time in 2009. NS has long had the reputation of being more "military" and authoritarian in its management style than other big railroads. (I've been reading Rush Loving's book "The Men who Loved Trains" about northeastern railroad in the 1960s--1990s: NS's "corporate culture" was a relevant issue in the negotiations leading to the split of Conrail between NS and CSX, many CR employees not wanting to be taken over by NS.) So I've wondered how to interpret its long "winning streak" in the Harriman awards. Possibilities that come to mind include:
A--- that authoritarian style is actually effective in reducing accidents
B--- that authoritarian style leads NS staff to be reluctant to report injuries
C--- there's some OTHER factor (environment in which the NS operates?), unrelated to management style, that accounts for it
---
C would be surprising: after all, CSX and NS operate in the same parts of the country, so hire from the same labor market and operate in the same weather conditions.

As to B, the article MEC407 links to says the award was based on FRA data. So, if B is the case, NS has to be encouraging literally criminal failure to report reportable stuff to the relevant federal regulators.

As to A... well, a controlling management style that makes for safe operations doesn't have to be one that makes the company pleasant to work for: as a total outsider, I'm at least willing to consider it as a possibility that "all those surprise rules checks" DO "pay off" for NS. But, to repeat, I'm a total outsider, and, frankly, I am just PUZZLED how one company(*) has managed to dominate the "safety stakes" for so long.
---
(*) Before the NS merger, didn't N&W have quite a series of Harrimans? In which case the "winning streak" for N&W and corporate successor is even more amazing.
Item "B" is simply not true! While I agree with the general assessment of NS's overall management style, this particular judgement is inaccurate! I have BEEN there. If anyone did not report ANY accident no matter how small (I can only speak for my department [Engineering]) from the lowest laborer to a manager, he would be taken out of service because it violates FRA rules and Norfolk Southern General Conduct and Safety Rules. No doubt it happened but one risked discipline or outright dismissal.

How do they REALLY do it? Safety meeting are held before every shift in all departments (when I was there). A safety rule is read and discussed from the General Conduct Rule Book. Employees then do a schedule of stretches and exercises as per the Company Medical Dept. Each department has a "Safety Committee". EACH employee WILL serve on that committee for 30 day stretches at least ONCE per year. Each week, a Safety Audit is performed where the team (and his supervisor, I believe) walks the property, looks for violations and hazards. These are "written up" and given to the supervisor(s) for correction. If it is a machine malfunctioning, it is subject to "Lockout-Tagout" whereby the person (and it isn't just someone on the safety commitee) goes and gets a lock and 2 keys. ANY employee can declare a safety hazard and it MUST not be ignored by company rules! The machine is then shut down, and locked OUT until repaired and both the supervisor AND the employee who locked out the machine must unlock it and return it to service after it has been corrected. Hazards are reported and MUST be acted upon immediately. It can be anything: oil on the floor, leaking fluids, sparks near flammable materials---OR unsafe behavior of employees. Yeah, it sounds like "tattling" and it is. But the theory is, IF someone is doing something unsafe, better to "rat" than to have that employee get killed because he was doing something unsafe OR violating established safety rules. People also get into unsafe habits and don't even realize it. They may become defensive if asked about it or asked to change. NS forces safety changes on its employees, and that is one of the ways they have won Harriman Awards so regularly. I saw some horrific accidents on Southern/NS before these policies were instituted, and I must say, grudgingly, they are on the right track!

Yes, the NS culture is harsh! I know: I LIVED it! But they DO reduce accidents with their methods; Intimidation, Safety Audits, revisions in methods and standards, both in hazards, equipment, and employee behavior modification. You can HATE 'em ( I sometimes did) or you can acknowledge their success however they are doing it!

GF

Allen Hazen
Posts: 2484
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 10:14 pm
Location: Edmonton, Canada (formerly Melbourne, Australia)

Re: NS takes home another Harriman Gold Medal

Post by Allen Hazen » Fri May 20, 2011 2:16 pm

GF--
Thank you for the detailed reply. (I listed B as one hypothesis that might occur to one a priori, and that was suggested by Nsroad's "they just figured out how to lie better." My comment about how encouraging people not to report injuries to the FRA is (I assume) a criminal offense agrees with what you say: I gave it as a reason that seemed to me to make hypothesis B less probable. I find NS's Harriman record genuinely amazing, and was hoping to provoke people-- like you-- with real knowledge to comment. So: thank you, again!)

User avatar
MEC407
Posts: 10962
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:15 pm

Re: NS takes home another Harriman Gold Medal

Post by MEC407 » Fri May 20, 2011 3:03 pm

A partial list of past winners can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._H._Harriman_Award
MEC407
Moderator:
Pan Am Railways — Boston & Maine/Maine Central — Delaware & Hudson
Central Maine & Quebec/Montreal, Maine & Atlantic/Bangor & Aroostook
Providence & Worcester — New England — GE Locomotives

Allen Hazen
Posts: 2484
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 10:14 pm
Location: Edmonton, Canada (formerly Melbourne, Australia)

Re: NS takes home another Harriman Gold Medal

Post by Allen Hazen » Sat May 21, 2011 2:32 am

MEC407--
Thanks for the link! I see that in category A the Gold, Silver and Bronze finishes have been the same, in the same order, for four years. (Not, perhaps, as remarkable as it would be if there were more than four "contestants"!)

Allen Hazen
Posts: 2484
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 10:14 pm
Location: Edmonton, Canada (formerly Melbourne, Australia)

Re: NS takes home another Harriman Gold Medal

Post by Allen Hazen » Sat May 21, 2011 2:35 am

(Or is Amtrak big enough to go into category A? It doesn't seem to have won any award in the period covered by the list.)

User avatar
MEC407
Posts: 10962
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:15 pm

Re: NS takes home another Harriman Gold Medal

Post by MEC407 » Sat May 21, 2011 8:35 am

Amtrak is an interesting question. I've wondered what happens if, for hypothetical example, an Amtrak employee has a reportable injury while performing his duties on Pan Am Railways property, and the injury is attributable to Pan Am, not Amtrak... who would take the hit for that when it comes time to calculate the number of injuries for that year -- Amtrak or Pan Am?

I'm not sure if Amtrak has ever won a Harriman medal, but the Harriman folks also give an award each year, in each of the four categories, to railroads that have shown the most improvement over the past year, and Amtrak has gotten that award a few times.
Last edited by MEC407 on Sat May 21, 2011 8:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
MEC407
Moderator:
Pan Am Railways — Boston & Maine/Maine Central — Delaware & Hudson
Central Maine & Quebec/Montreal, Maine & Atlantic/Bangor & Aroostook
Providence & Worcester — New England — GE Locomotives

User avatar
MEC407
Posts: 10962
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:15 pm

Re: NS takes home another Harriman Gold Medal

Post by MEC407 » Sat May 21, 2011 8:46 am

According to this timeline (scroll down to 1990), Amtrak has received at least one Harriman medal. Doesn't say which category they were in, though.
MEC407
Moderator:
Pan Am Railways — Boston & Maine/Maine Central — Delaware & Hudson
Central Maine & Quebec/Montreal, Maine & Atlantic/Bangor & Aroostook
Providence & Worcester — New England — GE Locomotives

Gadfly
Posts: 1198
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 11:28 pm

Re: NS takes home another Harriman Gold Medal

Post by Gadfly » Mon May 23, 2011 8:43 am

Harriman translates to $$ for the companies! Many companies besides the railroads are HUGE on safety because of legal issues, lawsuits, & medical costs. Companies, such as Ford, had told the railroads that if they didn't demonstrate safety in the transportation of their goods and less risk of injury to employees, they would transport by other means....meaning our arch-enemy: trucks! This is part of the reason that NS is so "anal" (depends on which side your bread is buttered) about safety and why they win so many Harrimans. If they DIDN'T win? People's heads would roll on NS!~ That's how serious they are about the Harriman Award!

J

Return to “Norfolk Southern”