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Canada’s Rail Safety Award Winners 2020

Ottawa – November 18, 2020

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) today announced the winners of its 2020 Safety Awards which recognize RAC members for their outstanding contributions to rail safety.

“Canada’s railways are among the safest in North America and these awards reflect their ongoing commitment to employee safety and that of all Canadians,” said Marc Brazeau, President and CEO, Railway Association of Canada.

RAC’s Safety Awards are awarded annually and are chosen from member submissions.

Our Rail Safety award winners for 2020:

Canadian National Railway (CN) for its Winter Readiness initiative to help improve safety at customer facilities.  This program helps educate customers in an effort to reduce the number of reportable safety incidents at the customer site and keep both CN and the customer employees safer when working around the rail. This is done through online webinars available in French and English to all CN customers on the most common issues during winter and how to ensure customers knew how to maintain their tracks for safe railway operations. (Category: North American Class 1 freight)

“As safety is a core value at CN, we are very proud of this prize. CN has established the Winter Readiness program to assist our customers in reducing the number of safety incidents at their site. Even in difficult economic times, we are investing in technology that will help make us a safer railroad, now and in the future, but technology alone will not do it all. It takes a considerable investment of time and energy and it is truly a team sport. On behalf of CN, we would like to thank the RAC for its continuous efforts in keeping Canada’s railways safe and for having selected CN’s Winter Readiness for its 2020 Safety Award.” – Keith Reardon, Senior Vice-President, Consumer Product Supply Chain, and James Cairns, Senior Vice-President, Rail Centric Supply Chain.

Canadian Pacific (CP) for its electromagnetic field-based wheel inspection system, which proactively detects wheels that have subsurface conditions that could lead to a broken wheel. This innovative detector is a first in North America with practical operational implementation capacity. The detector uses an array of 30 sensors embedded into the head of the rail. This innovation required significant sensor and rail design work in order to produce a system that could be deployed safely on a main line and operate in harsh Canadian environments. The technology has since advanced, and CP is now attaching electromagnetic sensors to rolling stock to inspect railheads for similar conditions. (Category: North American Class 1 freight)

“Canadian Pacific is using innovations like these to take safety to the next level,” said Kyle Mulligan, CP’s Chief Engineer. “It is a true honour to receive this prestigious award from the Railway Association of Canada. It’s an even greater honour to be a part of a dynamic, innovative team that plays a critical role in creating safer operations for the benefit of CP’s employees, customers and communities.”

Cando Rail Services (Cando) for its SwitchSmart initiative, an employee-driven campaign to foster safe switching practices. The core elements of how to be SwitchSmart are to Communicate and Confirm, Clearly and Consistently and 8 requirements have been established to ensure this is being done. Five ambassadors representing different industries (energy and chemicals, forest products, potash, and automotive) were trained and then assigned specific locations where they would promote and deliver the SwitchSmart messaging which included an engaging video featuring various employees and locations. It was intended that through interactive delivery and dynamic dialogue they would create a peer-to-peer atmosphere for all employees to incorporate SwitchSmart into their work habits and the Cando safety culture. (Category: Non-Class 1 – freight)

“We are thrilled to be recognized by RAC for SwitchSmart, Cando’s safety initiative to bolster safe switching practices,” says Steve Gallagher, Cando’s Director of Corporate Safety. “Continually improving our safety culture is extremely important to Cando and SwitchSmart has been a huge success company-wide.”

Southern Railway of British Columbia (SRY) for the creation of a close-call incident reporting program that is administered entirely by employees. The purpose of the program is to identify and address non-reportable incidents which can be indicators of other weaknesses and gaps. Being entirely employee-driven, this program cultivates a constructive and positive learning environment for employees and strengthen SRY’s employee engagement and overall Safety Culture. (Category: Non-Class 1 – freight)

“This program allows employees to share lessons learned from our personal experiences so that others can learn from them to prevent accidents and injuries. I feel proud to be part of this proactive growth in our safety culture.” – Ron Woods, Locomotive Engineer and Field Safety Coordinator.

Metrolinx for its COVID-19 Incident Command Team (ICT) which first convened in early January before there were any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada. The role of the ICT is to provide a phased approach to managing the mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery, and restoration of normal service; before, during, and post pandemic. Metrolinx has implemented more than 40 different COVID-19 measures to protect staff and customers and ensured safety and service measures continued to reflect the daily changes to the COVID-19 situation and were adjusted, as necessary, to ensure ongoing support to essential workers and others. (Category: Passenger)

“Thank you to the Railway Association of Canada for recognizing Metrolinx. Our COVID-19 Incident Command Team embodies safety leadership and teamwork and demonstrates the value of being proactive and coming together in challenging times. We would like to thank the 25 business unit leads who are part of the team and who are continuing to guide our work in reducing risk and exposure to our employees and customers. Safety never stops at Metrolinx.” – Martin Gallagher, Chief Safety Officer

VIA Rail Canada (VIA) for its Manual Handling program throughout the Mechanical Services department that seeks to correct improper ergonomic practices, prevent injuries and provide leading indicators aiming to shift our safety culture to one of prevention. The program also includes an additional component addressing slips, trips and falls which are among the leading causes of injuries in our workplace. (Category: Passenger)

“VIA Rail is proud to win a RAC safety award for our Manual Handling Program. We’re delighted to receive this recognition from the industry for our efforts and positive results in promoting and improving health and safety for employees in our maintenance centres. As 2020 continues to bring its share of challenges, safety remains our top priority.” – Dominique Lemay, Chief Operating Officer


About the Railway Association of Canada

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) represents more than 60 freight and passenger railway companies that move 88 million passengers and $328 billion worth of goods in Canada each year. RAC advocates on behalf of its members and associate members to ensure that the rail sector remains globally competitive, sustainable and, most importantly, safe. Learn more at railcandev.wpengine.com.

Stéphanie Montreuil
Senior Director, Communications and Media Relations
RAC Communications