Technical Reports

Transformation of Safety Culture on the San Antonio Service Unit of Union Pacific Railroad

  • 07
  • Nov
  • 2012
AUTHOR: Michael K. Zuschlag, Joyce M. Ranney, Michael K. Coplen, and Michael A. Harnar
OFFICE: RPD
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/ORD-12/16
SUBJECT: Human Factors
KEYWORDS: Changing At-Risk Behavior, CAB, Cab Red Zone, CRZ, Continuous Improvement,
ABSTRACT: The Federal Railroad Administration conducted a pilot demonstration of Clear Signal for Action (CSA), a risk reduction process that combines peer-to-peer feedback, continuous improvement, and safety leadership development. An independent formative and summative evaluation of the pilot using qualitative and quantitative measures found that CSA can be implemented on the railroad despite the historical mistrust between labor and management. It is helpful if the site for CSA is open to change and local and external leadership support the process. Over two years, the site with the CSA process experienced improved labor-management relations and an approximately 80 percent decrease in at-risk behaviors. The CSA process was associated with a 79 percent decrease in engineer decertification rates, and an 81 percent decrease in the rate of derailments and other incidents. Comparison locations showed no decreases on these safety measures. Sustaining CSA at a site depends on ongoing cooperation between labor and management to effectively resolve sensitive issues related to the CSA implementation, both protecting the integrity of the worker’s process and addressing management concerns. The experience of demonstration suggests that CSA can be effective in promoting a transformation in the broader organization toward more proactive, nondisciplinary approaches to safety.

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