Heartland Service Unit Making Safety Strides

Yardmen Marty Kern and Chris Tompkins - Heartland Service Unit

From left, Yardmen Marty Kern and Chris Tompkins

Union Pacific's Heartland Service Unit is making strides – literally – in its strive for safety excellence.

Kudos to the team, which has reduced its personal reportable injuries by 25% and human factor-derailments by 58% year to date.

The service unit, which stretches from Omaha, Nebr. and Des Moines, Iowa southwest into the Texas panhandle, continually seeks out new safety initiatives for employees, ensuring a safe and productive work atmosphere. One such initiative engages directly with train crews, called "Walk-with-Me Wednesdays."

"Every other Wednesday, we walk around the yard with two employees and show them how safe and reliable service impacts customers," said Ryan Curtis, superintendent-Train Operations. "For part of the day, these employees get to watch other crews perform work, which helps them see everything in a different light. Then they take what they’ve learned concerning safety behaviors back to their teammates and discuss it with the people they work with every day. It really changes how the team works with others."

Safety goes beyond Transportation teammates. Engineering and Mechanical employees play a large role in ensuring safety strategies are sustained.

"When there is an issue that needs to be fixed, Engineering is going to come out and fix it," Curtis said. "We do a lot of stop-the-lines that Engineering and Mechanical both come out to and address the safety issues right away. That helps reduce the risks we have there so there aren’t the same issues coming up."

The service unit’s success can be attributed to the camaraderie among the crews.

"Everyone looks out for each other," he said. "They know they are the first line of defense for something happening and stopping the line amongst themselves, and they’ve done a great job of that. We want to make sure we recognize people for it. It’s all about creating value with employees."

Curtis gave a shoutout to Yardmen Marty Kern and Chris Tompkins, who each were recently honored for their safety performance.

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