Special Topics in Safety Management

Union Pacific Is Tops in Railroad Safety—for the Second Year

Think your business is too big to pursue a goal of zero injuries? Union Pacific (UP), one of the world’s largest transportation companies, says it’s inching ever closer.


In 2016, Union Pacific became the safest U.S. railroad and achieved the best annual employee safety performance in its 154-year history. This was the second consecutive year Union Pacific led the industry in safety.

The railroad saw an enviable improvement of 11 percent last year, with a 0.78 reportable injury rate, compared with 0.88 in 2016. That rate represents the number of reportable injuries submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration per 200,000 employee hours worked. From 2002 to 2012, UP reduced injury rates by 58 percent.

Rod Doerr, vice president for safety and chief safety officer, expressed pride in the Union Pacific team and efforts to eliminate risk and create safer work environments. He added, “This accomplishment reflects our employees’ unwavering commitment to make safety a part of everything they do, and a step toward our goal of zero accidents and injuries.”

Leaders credit the railroad’s Total Safety Culture (TSC), a voluntary, employee-owned process that focuses on training, observations, and feedback. Employees are empowered to address at-risk behaviors. The safety program is implemented by a safety staff, employee representatives who serve on site Implementation Teams, and voluntary TSC facilitators.

The railroad’s commitment to safety encompasses goals including:

  • Operating a safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible rail network that delivers the best customer service.
  • Providing employees with the safest work environment.
  • Constantly improving employee, customer, and public safety through training, education, innovation, and investment.

Union Pacific connects 23 states in the western United States by rail.

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