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This 'Spike' is about doing it right

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Lewis Ware, left, training gang leader and former chairman, and Eddie Johnson, center, carman and current chairman of the Georgia-Piedmont Division summer spike committee, talk with Spike, aka carman Greg Snow.

Most everybody at Norfolk Southern knows about Brainy, the company's ambulatory brain that promotes grade-crossing safety, and Code Bear, the huggable ursine who reminds everyone to adhere to the company's code of ethics.

A new homegrown mascot made its debut at the safety expo - a friendly fellow named "Spike." "This is the coming out of Spike," said Greg Snow, a carman in Lynchburg, Va., and creator of the character.

With only his face visible inside a gray cloth and foam suit shaped like a railroad spike, Snow wandered among the expo crowd, explaining his purpose: to raise awareness of the increase or "spike" in railroad workplace injuries that typically occur in summer months.

Snow is a member of a joint summer spike committee that mechanical employees on the Georgia and Piedmont divisions formed five years ago to reduce injuries. The committee draws attention with slogans and artwork distributed to employees on posters, t-shirts, and hardhat stickers. Come June, Spike plans to go on tour, making unannounced visits across the two divisions to remind employees to work safely.

"We want to get people thinking that the Spike can show up at any time, so you've got to be on your toes," Snow said.

The rise in summer injuries is attributed to the many things that can distract employees during the season, such as thoughts of vacations or family outings. Eddie Johnson, a Savannah carman and committee chair, said reportable injuries among mechanical employees in the two divisions have dropped significantly since the committee was organized by Scott Kershaw, Georgia Division manager mechanical operations.

"We dream up ways to reach our employees to help them stay focused for the day, the week, and the month," Johnson said, reciting one of the group's slogans: "There is no spike when it's done right."