Magazine article Risk Management

Conrail's Answer to Data Dump

Magazine article Risk Management

Conrail's Answer to Data Dump

Article excerpt

The freight railroad industry is heavily regulated, and Conrail, an industry leader with operations in the northeastern United States and Canada, is no exception. The company is inundated with regulations promulgated by the Federal Railway Administration, the Department of Transportation, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency as well as multiple state, provincial and local government agencies. "Conrail employees were being overwhelmed with rules and requirements -- what we call data dump," says Harvey Lermack director of risk management and technical training for Conrail. "Our environmental, health and safety, and hazardous material departments were all sending information that was competing for employees' attention."

By refocusing training and integrating employees' perception of risk, a new program has contributed to a reduction of Conrail's cost of risk in only two years. "It's hard to quantify the exact savings, but the new training program has had a significant impact not just on risk but on wellness and other proactive measures," says Mr. Lermack, who has worked with teams including members of operations, headquarters and field risk management and peer trainers -- 250 people in all -- to develop and deliver the annual program.

So far, two parts of the program have been launched. In 1996 and 1997, training was given to Conrail's 6,500 train and engine workers. In 1997, 4,500 track and signal workers received a program tailored to their responsibilities. …

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