Below are links to research and other resources related to safety culture, and the work conducted by the Short Line Safety Institute.
The Transportation Research Record has published a paper detailing study results from the Short Line Safety Institute, contributing to the understanding of the U.S. short line and regional railroad industry’s current workforce demography and factors that affect safety culture. The study shows how two factors, Management status and gender, may differentially affect people’s safety culture perceptions.
The Federal Railroad Administration has published the Short Line Safety Institute’s (SLSI) 2022 Systematic Review. The objective of the systematic review, conducted annually, is to examine the strengths and gaps in safety culture across the short line and regional railroad industry. The annual systematic review informs SLSI of the industry’s needs as it continues to develop its programs, resources, and service offerings.
The Short Line Safety Institute and University of Connecticut partnered to develop a study in response to one of the Federal Railroad Administration’s top workforce challenges – gender diversity in the workforce. The study provided a view of gender diversity in rail transportation, and how factors such as gender and management status interact to affect perceptions of safety culture. The study in poster format was presented at the Transportation Research Board Meeting in January 2023.
A case study conducted by the SLSI and the University of Connecticut in mid-late 2020 uncovered a relationship between how employees perceived their railroad’s safety culture and COVID-19 response. Participants with more positive perceptions of their railroad’s safety culture were more likely to have more positive perceptions of their railroad’s COVID-19 response, indicating value in a railroad having and maintaining a strong safety culture.
An analysis of archival survey data conducted by the SLSI and the University of Connecticut suggests that managers have more positive perceptions of safety training quality than non-managers, and that participants employed at smaller railroads have more positive perceptions than those employed at larger railroads. Additional analyses revealed that these perceptions may be reflective of how employees perceive their railroad’s safety values. Taken together, it is important for managers and larger railroads to pay particularly close attention to how employees perceive the quality of their safety training, and that when addressing safety training quality, railroads should keep in mind that these perceptions may be more broadly driven by how employees perceive their railroad’s commitment to safety.
The Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Research, Development & Technology has published a report evaluating Safety Culture Assessments that have been completed in 2021 by the Short Line Safety Institute. The report states that 1) there are prominent strengths in safety culture across the short line and regional railroad industry, and 2) there are noteworthy gaps in the industry as well. Further, by assessing safety culture and examining the practices of the short line and regional railroads, SLSI can gain insight into the industry at large. With this information, SLSI can report generally on the needs of the industry and take action to create and offer resources that address identified railroad safety Opportunities. The report notes SLSI’s online Resources, and Leadership Development Training and Hazardous Materials Training programs as examples.
An analysis of railroads who have completed an initial SCA and a follow-up (Time 2) SCA show Safety Culture growth overall, and across all ten Core Elements evaluated.
The Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) offers a Leadership Development Training (LDT) for interested short line railroads. An assessment of the current training program allows SLSI to learn from its past participants and to continually make improvements to best serve short line and regional railroads across the United States. SLSI conducted an analysis of feedback surveys that were provided to participants in its Leadership Development Training. Across all 218 feedback surveys, more than 97% of participants rated the program activities as valuable, as a worthwhile investment in their career development, and would recommend the program to a colleague in the railroad industry. Participants also provided SLSI with suggestions for improving the program.
The Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) conducts Safety Culture Assessments for interested short line railroads. An evaluation of the current Safety Culture Assessment program allows SLSI to learn from its past participants and to continually make improvements to best serve short line and regional railroads across the United States. SLSI conducted an analysis of feedback surveys that were provided to participants in its Safety Culture Assessments. Participants provided positive feedback about the program, and also provided SLSI with suggestions for improving the program.
September 2021 – The Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) conducts Safety Culture Assessments on short line railroads, and also conducts an annual Systematic Review of the assessed railroads to measure industry trends and identify opportunities for improvement in safety culture. Results of the 2020 Systematic Review suggest that both the quality and quantity of railroad safety communication can be improved. In response to these findings, SLSI launched a Safety Poster Program which provides interested railroads with safety posters on a quarterly basis free of charge. SLSI also aims to assist railroads with other aspects of their safety communication quality and quantity, such as possible barriers to effective communication. Thus, the goals of this paper is to highlight potential obstacles associated with safety communication, provide tips on how to overcome the obstacles, and educate the industry on the importance of clear and frequent safety communication.
May 2021 – This report summarizes findings from a systematic review of the nine SLSI Safety Culture Assessment Reports created in 2020, and discusses industry trends in the strengths and gaps related to safety culture practices. These strengths (e.g., employees feel empowered to work safely) and gaps (e.g., a lack of formal safety concern reporting systems) provide insight to and indicators of the status of safety culture in the short line and regional railroad industry. The report demonstrated that SLSI is equipped to help railroads address current industry gaps and assist railroads in developing systems they need for creating a strong safety culture. Lastly, this report highlights new ways for SLSI to continue to serve the rail industry.
January 2021 – Research Results Paper which evaluates the perceptions of the Hazardous Materials Training Program by past participants.
January 2021 – Research Results Paper which evaluates the effectiveness of the Short Line Safety Institute’s Hazardous Materials Training Program.
September, 2020 – Research Results Paper suggest that Commuter Operations would benefit from SLSI’s services. Additionally, results suggest that SLSI’s SCA process is easily transferable from freight to commuter railroads with minor revisions.
May 29, 2020 – Research Results Paper that suggests that the ‘SCA process and follow-up support hold promise for strengthening railroad safety culture.
September 2019 – Research Results paper about the early outcomes across railroads that participated in a Safety Culture Assessment (SCA).
June 2019 – Research Results paper about the SLSI’s model for conducting Safety Culture Assessments (SCAs).
November 2018 – Research Results paper about the status of safety culture in the short line and regional railroad industry.
August 2017 – U.S. Department of Transportation Safety Council’s paper regarding the importance of safety culture in the transportation industry.