It Starts with Culture.

A Safety Culture Assessment is voluntary, non-punitive and confidential.

The Safety Culture Assessment (SCA) process takes place onsite and includes an online survey of staff, in-person interviews with management and craft employees and observations of the railroad’s daily practices.

At the conclusion of the SCA, the railroad will receive information about Findings and Opportunities for improvement that are aligned with the Ten Core Elements of a Strong Safety Culture, as adopted by the DOT Safety Council.

Technical Assistance

The SLSI offers Technical Assistance to railroads that are looking to implement changes with the goal of strengthening their safety culture.  Examples of assistance include activities such as designing a Safety Action Plan, engaging in strategies to improve safety communications, and offering assistance in building the structure and functionality of a Safety Committee.

Follow-up Assessment

A Follow-up Assessment may be requested by railroads that participated in an initial Safety Culture Assessment to provide them with the opportunity to re-examine their safety culture and identify new opportunities for improvement.

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Four Key Railroad Best Practices

Based on Assessments at over 70 railroads to date, high performance railroads exhibit four key practices.

Top management visibly supports safety

The importance of leadership in fostering a strong safety culture is indicated by the fact that almost all safety culture models explicitly mention leadership commitment to safety. Leaders across all layers of a railroad must model safety-first attitudes and behaviors. Employees learn what the accepted practices are on a railroad by following the examples set by its leaders. This may be illustrated by Leaderships ensuring that safety is prioritized over competing demands in such documents as mission and vision statements, participation in Safety Briefings, participating in Safety Committee meetings and making business decisions that consistently prioritize safety.

Training is continuous

Those who manage and operate the system must have current knowledge about the human, technical, organizational, and environmental factors that determine the safety of the system as a whole. With any changes in operations practices, staff changes, or new business being developed by the railroads, continuous training should be considered. Training can be delivered in a variety of formats, including face-to-face, webinars, conferences, etc.

Employees are empowered to act safely

Empowerment is ensuring that employees have the skills, knowledge, resources and authority to make safe choices within an acceptable range of options. Strengthening empowerment throughout the railroad could foster a safety culture in which employees and managers feel personally responsible for making decisions about safety.

No safety shortcuts are allowed

Railroads with a strong safety culture will consistently choose safety over performance when faced with the choice of cutting corners to increase performance. Training, empowering and consistently monitoring employees’ rules conformance can reduce the risk of employee work practices coming uncoupled from the railroads written rules and standards.

Top to bottom, all are committed to everyone working safely, and having a workplace that is free from accidents.