COVID-19: UP Employees' Most Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: Sept. 23, 2020

Have questions? We’ve got answers. Union Pacific has received hundreds of COVID-19-related questions on topics such as potential exposure and commuting to work in areas with “shelter in place” orders.

How is Union Pacific protecting employees working in or returning to facilities?

UP is taking every precaution necessary to ensure employees' health and safety, including restricting all non-essential company travel; immediately removing from the workplace employees displaying symptoms; performing EPA biohazard deep cleanings to any work areas and/or equipment COVID-19 positive employees may have come in contact with; and producing and dispersing company-made hand sanitizer.

When I return to work, will I need to reactivate my badge?

Employees who have not scanned their photo ID/access card in the last 30 days will need to reactivate it by visiting the Photo Identification and Credentialing System (PICS) home page and selecting ‘Reactivate My Badge’ under the ‘Credentialing’ dropdown.

What should I do if I get sick or have symptoms?

If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or have tested positive, follow UP’s COVID-19 notification process.

If I have what I assume to be a simple cough, should I still come to work?

If you are coughing frequently, potentially spraying droplets and transmitting a virus to others, please stay home. If in doubt, contact your Occupational Health Nurse or the Nurses Line at 402-544-7011.

What is considered a possible COVID-19 exposure?

The CDC states a possible risk for exposure includes living with an individual who tested positive or spending a minimum of 10 minutes or more within 6 feet of an infected individual.

Unless meeting the above criteria, the following examples are not considered exposure:

  • Walking through a public area or being in a building where an infected individual with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis has been.
  • Attending the same public event, such as a sporting event, concert or large group gathering, that an infected individual also attended. 

If someone just feels under the weather, should they contact the UP nurse to decide if they have COVID-19 symptoms?

Employees are welcome to contact the Nurses Line at 402-544-7011 with questions. Symptoms to be especially aware of include coughing, difficulty breathing and fever.

A co-worker was quarantined because a family member has COVID-19; if I worked with him yesterday, should I quarantine?

If the co-worker is not symptomatic and is being quarantined, employees who worked with him can continue working unless instructed otherwise by the local health department or UP’s Health and Medical Services Department.

Should my work unit be doing a bio-hazard deep cleaning of facilities and equipment?

UP has a cleaning process in place for facilities and equipment, including specialized cleaning procedures for COVID-19 exposures. Nevertheless, employees are encouraged to wipe down frequently used contact surfaces such as tabletops and locomotive armrests.

How do I return to work after quarantine or recovery?

An Occupational Health Nurse or Health and Medical Services Department representative will complete with you a short questionnaire. If your responses meet criteria, HMS may authorize your return to work. UP’s chief medical officer will have final decision-making authority in all return-to-work decisions.

What should I do if I’m stopped while commuting to work and local authorities do not honor the Union Pacific and Department of Homeland Security Travel Exemption document?

Employees should call UP’s Response Management Communications Center (RMCC) at 1-888-UPRRCOP (877-7267). The RMCC will then connect UP’s Police Department with local authorities.

How can a conductor and locomotive engineer practice social distancing?

Maintain six feet of social distancing in crew rooms; practice good hygiene before entering and within company vans; provide space while entering and exiting locomotives; and maintain social distancing and good hygiene within the cab. During transport to/from train runs, please follow UP’s Facial Covering Policy that requires all employees and contractors riding or working in a company or contractor vehicle and/or work equipment with more than one person to wear facial coverings at all times when in the vehicle.

How is UP promoting social distancing with Maintenance of Way employees?

A few examples of how Engineering is reducing the risk of exposure and promoting better social distancing of employees are by breaking large groups up into smaller job briefings; staggering seats in buses, reducing riders by about 50%; practicing social distancing while entering and exiting buses; and disinfecting buses and seats between uses.

How can track maintenance and welders maintain social distancing in welding and boom trucks?

Every vehicle is different, so it’s important to evaluate each situation for opportunities to mitigate risk. Before entering a vehicle, wash your hands. Upon entering, use disinfectants to clean common touch surfaces. If it’s safe to do so, roll the window down. If the vehicle has a backseat, utilize it. At the job site, evaluate tasks and find ways to create social distancing. UP’s Facial Covering Policy requires all employees and contractors riding or working in a company or contractor vehicle and/or work equipment with more than one person to wear facial coverings at all times when in the vehicle.

How is UP addressing social distancing in company vehicles?

Transportation is asking van drivers to only transport one crew at a time. Engineering is staggering seats on buses, reducing riders by about 50%. UP is conducting field audits to ensure CDC guidelines are being followed. Concerns should be addressed through the Safety Hotline and categorized under 'COVID-19 Safety Concerns.'

It only takes one employee to jeopardize a workgroup – how is UP ensuring employees follow all policies?

It’s the personal responsibility of every employee to protect themselves, their co-workers, their families and their communities. Along with holding yourself accountable for staying home when sick, demonstrate Courage to Care for your co-workers.

If you notice a coworker displaying COVID-19 symptoms, contact your local supervisor for support. Supervisors may contact Health and Medical Services at 402-544-7011 or a Local Occupational Health Nurse for additional guidance.

Under what conditions will Union Pacific compensate agreement employees while quarantined?

UP will compensate agreement employees for up to 14 days if the employee is directed to quarantine themselves by local health department personnel or UP Health and Medical Services personnel because the employee worked with a co-worker who tested positive for COVID-19.

Who do I contact for COVID-19-related pay issues?

Contact Payroll Services or create a payroll ticket for questions related to COVID-19 timekeeping and payroll. Tickets are responded to within one business day. These calls should not be directed to the Nurses Line.

If many employees get sick, will we allow employees from other areas or crafts to fill vacancies?

UP has worked with unions in the past to help employees find productive work through avenues like borrow-outs. We will also use intra-craft transfers as a mechanism as appropriate to keep our employees working as much as possible.

What cleaning process takes place after a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 employee leaves Union Pacific property?

The virus can live and potentially infect other people for up to 48 hours on a surface, but only if other people later touch a contaminated surface and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth.

Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, UP follows the below cleaning and disinfection direction for facilities and equipment with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 disease:

  • Up to 48 hours after the employee’s departure, the facilities and/or equipment the ill employee had frequent contact with will be disinfected with the HazMat team Biohazard Cleaning Process.
  • After 48 hours, UP employees may perform normal cleaning and sanitization of frequently touched surfaces, such as tables, doorknobs, switches and locomotive armrests.

Cleaning supplies are challenging to purchase nationwide – what is UP doing to acquire these essential items?

UP’s Supply Department works hard every day to secure items like hand sanitizer, which has been strategically distributed systemwide. We’ve also acquired the ingredients to create our own hand sanitizer. Additionally, the Supply team worked with field employees to create a diluted bleach mixture that can be used to clean frequently used surfaces. You can also make your own hand sanitizer and disinfectant, if necessary.

Are we allowed to bring in cleaning products from home?

Yes, if products follow CDC guidelines. However, if you’re bringing cleaning products from home because your work location does not have an adequate supply, please notify UP through the Safety Hotline under the 'COVID-19 Safety Concerns' category.

How are we protecting employees with immunocompromised family members?

Employees concerned about caring for family members with underlying conditions that may put them at greater risk should contact their health care provider. If the provider makes recommendations, communicate them to the Nurses Line at 402-544-7011, or your Occupational Health Nurse or Workforce Resources Business Partner.

With employees working from home on personal Wi-Fi connections, is UP more at risk of cyber threats?

Yes; employees must continue following proper cybersecurity practices. Avoid phishing: If you don’t know the source of the email, don’t open it. If it looks suspicious, treat it as suspicious. Remember to check email headers for legitimate senders and be cautious of links you have never visited before. To protect yourself and the company, also be sure you know the websites you are visiting, only download files you are expecting and have up-to-date anti-virus software running on your home computer.