WASHINGTON, D.C., August 10, 2018 – The Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) has announced the hiring of Mr. Sam Cotton for the position of Senior Manager – Safety and Operations for the Short Line Safety Institute, replacing Mike Long, who recently accepted a position with the Federal Railroad Administration.

In his new role, Mr. Cotton will be responsible for the management of the Safety Culture Assessment program. A Safety Culture Assessment is a voluntary, non-punitive and confidential five-to-ten-day onsite process with a rigorous methodology that includes an online survey of staff, discussions with management, and observations of the railroads daily practices.

Mr. Cotton has served the SLSI as a Safety Culture Assessor since 2015, and for the past two years as a Team Lead. As one of the original Safety Culture Assessors during the Short Line Safety Institute’s Pilot Program, Cotton helped develop and test the protocols and processes that are in place today.

“Sam has been a go-to resource for our entire Safety Assessor team, conducting all aspects of the Assessment process, providing feedback to improve the program, and speaking on behalf of the SLSI at national and regional meetings. His passion for the process, and the impact of a Safety Culture Assessment on a railroad, is evident to all who have worked with him,” said Tom Murta, Executive Director, Short Line Safety Institute.

The Assessment tools review the ten core elements of a strong safety culture, as adopted by the DOT Safety Council. At the end of the Assessment, best practices from the railroad industry, and tools to address any opportunity areas are made available to the railroad.

Mr. Cotton brings over 18 years of railroad safety operations experience to the SLSI, having spent 12 years working in law enforcement, followed by a second career in railroading, where he held a variety of operations roles with Omnitrax including Conductor, Engineer, Trainmaster, Superintendent of Operations and General Manager. He also served on the Omnitrax Safety Audit Team and audited multiple railroads across the US and Canada. In 2009 he was awarded the ASLRRA Safety Person of the Year award and the Panhandle Northern, one of the Omnitrax properties that Mr. Cotton was responsible for, was awarded the ASLRRA Most Improved Railroad award.

To consider a Safety Culture Assessment, contact the Short Line Safety Institute, or reach out to sam.cotton@shortlinesafety.org.