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American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) Chairman Ed McKechnie on Friday announced five industry safety experts have been retained as assessors for a pilot project associated with the development of the Short Line Safety Institute.The team includes Wayne Hamm, who has more than 36 years of safety and operating experience gained at Southern Pacific and Union Pacific railroads, RailTex, RailAmerica Inc. and OmniTRAX Inc.; Pat Black, who has more than 30 years of safety and operating experience gleaned at BNSF Railway Co., OmniTRAX and Watco Cos.; Annie Richardson, who's logged more than 20 years of safety assessment and related experience at Antea Group and several large industrial companies; Shannon Adamson, who's accumulated more than 14 years of rail and assessment experience at BNSF and Antea Group; and Sam Cotton, who has 17 years of rail safety and operating experience culled from OmniTRAX, Alliance Terminal Railroad and Quality Terminal Services.Assigning the assessors is the first step toward the longer-range goal of developing a comprehensive industry-wide safety culture assessment program that will serve as the core of the institute, ASLRRA officials said in a press release. The association has adopted a U.S. Department of Transportation statement that identified safety culture as a top priority for the short-line industry.The institute is the result of an ASLRRA proposal presented to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in January 2014 as a step toward improving the safety culture for short lines that transport crude oil, and eventually for all short lines and regionals.During the first six months of the project, teams will be tasked with visiting six railroads that transport crude to assess whether:• their leadership is committed to safety;• their practices feature continuous learning concerning safety;• their decisions demonstrate that safety is prioritized over competing demands;• they foster a "safety conscious" work environment;• their employees feel personally responsible for safety;• they promote "open and effective communication" across their railroad;• they foster mutual trust with employees;• they are "fair and consistent" in responding to safety concerns; and• they provide training and resources to support safety."Safety is our most important focus, and the pilot project and institute will lead the way in creating a commitment to a strong safety culture and behavioral change from the top down based on the assessments done by this group of dedicated professionals," said McKechnie.
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