Railroad Days : An annual Celebration of all things TRAIN & TRACK

Union Pacific Presents: Raildroad Days

Go Home Safe.

How humans understand safety and risk has changed as our lifestyles have evolved. It was not long ago that cars were manufactured without seatbelts. Now we wouldn’t ride in a car without wearing one.

For more than a century, railroads have focused on safety improvements. In the early years, between 1890 and 1910, there were no air brakes, and connecting cars was a manual task. To slow or stop a train, brakemen climbed on top of moving cars to tie handbrakes together. It was very dangerous work that resulted in numerous injuries and fatalities. During this time period, the industry averaged 2,500 fatalities per year.

As technology advanced, safety improved. In the late 1920s, the industry adopted a “safety first” mentality. This mentality created a continuous focus on improved technology and processes aimed at creating a safer working environment.

Today, safety is not just an idea; it is a way of life. Railroads are currently considered one of our nation’s safest industries. Between 1980 and 2012, the rail employee injury, train derailment and crossing accident rates have all declined by more than 80 percent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, railroads have lower employee injury rates than other modes of transportation like trucks, barges and airlines, as well as most other major industry groups, including grocery and retail stores.