Commitment to Safety

At Union Pacific, we reduced employee reportable injury rates by 58 percent from 2002 to 2012, celebrating the lowest reportable injury rate in our history and moving us one step closer to our goal of zero incidents and zero injuries. We are proud to have an exceptional safety record in what is already the safest industry for ground freight transportation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, railroads have lower employee injury rates than most other modes of transportation and major industry groups, even grocery stores.

Our focus on safety extends to our employees, our communities and customers we serve. Following are several examples in addition to our focus on regulatory compliance. You'll find additional safety statistics and more detail in our Sustainability & Citizenship Report.

Total Safety Culture

Union Pacific and our employees share an absolute commitment to safety. Our Total Safety Culture (TSC), a voluntary, employee-owned process focused on training, observations and feedback, is a valuable component.

TSC directly empowers our union employees to address at risk behaviors. The values of the program are shared, and supported, by the company’s senior management.

TSC is active in all three regions of our company’s service area, and each location has an Implementation Team (I-Team) representative of the work force. I-Team members collaborate with TSC facilitators and master trainers to train employees on safe workplace standards. Both voluntary positions, facilitators guide the I-Team and master trainers make sure training meets TSC standards. Union Pacific’s TSC master trainers must complete seven modules and be unanimously approved by a review board to assume the role.

Public Safety

Union Pacific reduced crossing accident rates by 15 percent from 2002 to 2012. The company works with federal, state and local officials to promote safety at rail crossings. Government officials determine where signals should be placed and when crossing improvements and safety upgrades are needed.

We will continue to work toward improving infrastructure and collaborating with state and local governments and law enforcement personnel to reduce collisions.

“Caring, collaboration and community” best describe Union Pacific’s public safety efforts, and these traits are embodied in the railroad’s public safety initiative, UP CARES.

Union Pacific engages in safety outreach through community events, media, Union Pacific special agents, employee resource groups and Operation Lifesaver. UP CARES events offer opportunities to interact one-on-one with a range of community stakeholders to communicate key safety messages and change unsafe behavior.

Safety Technology

Our derailment reportable rate decreased 15 percent from 2002 to 2012. Union Pacific continues to incorporate innovative technology and solutions to decrease derailments and enhance safety.

Examples of technology additions:

  • Distributed Power Units: Placing locomotives in the middle and/or end of trains rather than having all locomotives at the front end. Distributed power enhances safety because it reduces the physical forces on the train, making it less prone to derailments and facilitates more even braking to reduce wheel and track wear.
  • Ultrasonic Wheel-Defect Detection: Scans each wheel in our coal-car fleet every 60 to 90 days in an effort to eliminate derailments caused by broken wheels.
  • Wayside Detectors: Identify potential failures in rail equipment components. Data from these systems is networked through a centralized computing system, allowing us to produce a report card for each car and locomotive.

Emergency Training & Response Systems

Rail is the safest method to transport hazardous materials. Railroads are required to transport hazardous materials according to a federal law known as the common carrier obligation. Railroads haul more than 20 percent of the chemicals used in the United States.

Currently, 99.996 percent of the industry’s freight rail chemicals shipments move without incident or loss. However, we will not be satisfied until we meet our 100 percent objective.

Union Pacific partners with local, state, and federal first responders and emergency management organizations to help minimize the impact on a community should the rare instance of a derailment occur. With the click of a mouse on our secure surveillance network, security personnel can follow Toxic Inhalation Hazard shipments anywhere on the system, whether the cars are moving or not. We can focus in on any shipment and see greater detail down to the trip history and plan for each car.