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The BLET and Norfolk Southern will begin working together to improve safe train operations under a joint FRA Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS). The Implementing Memorandum of Understanding (IMOU), was announced on January 29. C3RS allows operating employees to confidentially report close calls or other safety issues that occur without concern for disciplinary action by railroad management. Currently, NS is the only Class I railroad that has an IMOU for C3RS.

The C3RS pilot program governs BLET members whose home terminals are Atlanta, Ga., Elkhart, Ind., or Roanoke, Va. (including outlying points protected by extra boards at these pilot locations). Those three home terminals fall under the jurisdiction of the three involved BLET General Chairmen — Scott Bunten, NS-Eastern Lines GCA (Roanoke); Jerry Sturdivant, NS-Southern Lines GCA (Atlanta); and Dewayne Dehart, NS-Northern Lines GCA (Elkhart).

General Chairman Bunten said: “This historic IMOU, although a pilot, will greatly benefit our membership with protection from discipline and provide incident data that is not available now to create a safer workplace for all. We are very proud to have developed this program with all of the stakeholders involved and look forward to completing the pilot program successfully and rolling it out system wide.”

General Chairman Dehart said: “I’m proud of the work we have done. Anytime you can decrease the amount of discipline for your members, while also increasing training, it’s a good thing. The process should put the emphasis on safety instead of the hard-hitting discipline from the past that caused our members to be out of work for a long time and severely impacted their finances.”

General Chairman Sturdivant said: “In the rail industry when an unfortunate incident happens the resolution usually is to educate through discipline. With C3RS, this will be the rail industry’s first steps toward more education and no discipline. This is a big victory for railroad employees.”

About C3RS
Close call events will be reported to NASA, which has years of experience with the risk-reduction approach to safety and will process the information to maintain the confidentiality of the reporting employee. Then, a Peer Review Team with representatives from management and labor will analyze the close call incident to determine appropriate corrective action.

More information will be made available soon to BLET members, including how the C3RS program works and how to report close calls or unsafe practices.

NS photo courtesy: Cory Rusch, BLET Division 659