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Zero Today: EHS Leadership at CF Rail Services

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As a 30-year veteran in the Environment Health & Safety (EHS) practice area, I’ve worked in several different industries, including chemical and petrochemical, before I got to my current role with CF Rail Services. Even though this is my first opportunity to work in the rail industry, the basic concepts of EHS and the approach taken – at a high level – are quite similar across the board. It’s the types of risks we come across that are quite different. 

EHS leadership starts with accountability at the top and with every individual in the organization. The experience and values I bring to this role align with the Sasser culture in forming strong professional relationships and striving for continuous improvement at all levels. Our Zero Today vision is the manifestation of these core values. 

What is Zero Today?

Zero Today is our vision statement at CF Rail Services. Our EHS policies, procedures, and awareness & CFRS-Blog-Header-ZeroTodayrecognition programs are engineered to drive work-related injuries and illnesses down to zero. It is the most important responsibility of every leader and supervisor to adhere to our EHS requirements with the highest integrity. 

Impact to date

Our Zero Today vision and program was implemented three years ago, and since then, we’ve successfully reduced the OSHA recordable injury rate by 90%, improved our third-party EHS program scores for ISNetworld® and Avetta, and reduced the amount of hazardous waste generation at each of our shops. We’ve also implemented an EHS management system that provides the necessary rigor, discipline, and transparency at the shop level and in the field to assist with safety compliance. 

The program

Understanding all the risks and developing strategies to mitigate them is fundamental to any EHS program. Investigating past incidents helps us define the risks and plan for – and hopefully avoid – future incidents. 

Education and awareness training is an important element of our program. Each shop holds mandatory weekly sessions that cover a variety of topics and tools, which help to keep safety compliance top of mind for everyone and ingrained in our day-to-day operations. 

Periodically, we conduct internal audits to measure our own safety performance and compliance and to flag any potential issues that we can address and correct. 

Recognizing and rewarding outstanding EHS leadership and performance at all levels of our organization is something that I’m particularly proud of – it demonstrates the value we place on our people and their well-being, and our appreciation for everyone bringing our core values to life every day in their roles. 

Where we go from here

One of the key challenges we have going forward is improving on our 90% reduction – this is a good problem to have, but the closer we get to realizing our vision of zero injuries in the workplace, the harder it is to find new ways to move the needle on continuous improvement. 

The future success of our EHS program will rely on developing site supervisors to act as EHS managers at each of our shops and in the field to drive safety performance. Leading by example in creating a high-energy safety culture, our site supervisors will be responsible for awareness training, reporting in our EHS management system, and incentivizing safety compliance among the shop and field crews.

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