Norfolk Southern’s Safety Process
As the first part of the company’s vision, safety is the top priority at Norfolk Southern. The goal is simple: zero incidents and zero injuries.
Norfolk Southern employees have led the rail industry in safety performance since 1989, winning an unprecedented twenty consecutive E. H. Harriman Gold Medal Award for employee safety (1989-2008). The important role safety plays is evident in its inclusion in NS’ vision statement.
Norfolk Southern employees also have been recognized for their safety practices by DuPont, Toyota and Cargill. Over that period, NS has set industry benchmarks for train and employee safety.
Employee commitment to safety remained a priority at NS during a time of change and challenge. In 2008, NS continued to set the pace for the railroad industry by finishing with a ratio of 0.93 personal injuries per 200,000 employee hours, which is well below the industry average. The success of NS’ safety process can be attributed to the personal commitment of each employee.
By way of background, Norfolk Southern in 1987 turned for guidance to DuPont Inc., a world leader in industrial safety, to improve safety performance. DuPont trained Norfolk Southern’s senior management, started the company on the road toward continuous safety improvement and helped develop its safety structure. DuPont instilled the fundamental concept that improved safety performance requires teamwork - an effort in which everyone participates and no one sits on the sidelines.
As a result, Norfolk Southern developed systemwide safety policies, expectations and goals. Norfolk Southern began to encourage employees to examine setbacks, learn from them and prevent incidents from recurring. Since 1988, the collaborative efforts of employees have reduced the company’s injury rate by more than 80%.
Norfolk Southern employees continue to work to lead the rail industry by keeping safety the top priority. The company’s safety process is made up of many components, each contributing to overall improvement.
The foundation of Norfolk Southern’s safety practices is found in the Six Tenets of Safety:
- All injuries can be prevented.
- All exposures can be safe-guarded.
- Prevention of injuries and accidents is the responsibility of each employee.
- Training is essential for good safety performance.
- Safety is a condition of employment.
- Safety is good business.
NS fulfills these tenets through the Six-Point Action Plan for Safety of Operations. Each employee must take personal responsibility for performing work in accordance with the Action Plan. NS will continue to reinforce the Action Plan and Six Tenets by providing training for all employees. In this area, as in others, there is a need to learn from each other to be successful.
Maintaining the enviable position as the safest railroad in the industry allows NS to offer customers a competitive transportation package while also serving the interests of its employees and shareholders.