Two honored for safety achievements at short line meeting

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Cleo Johnson, Jr., Maintenance-of-Way Foreman, Mississippi Export Railroad, was honored as Safety Person of the Year.
The short line association's Safety Professional of the Year was awarded to David Nagy, Executive Director of Safety, Springfield Terminal, part of Pan Am Railways.
ORLANDO, Fla. – The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association has honored two outstanding individuals for their career commitment to railroad safety at the 2019 Connections Convention in Orlando, Florida.

“Safety is foremost at every railroad. A railroader wants their peers to come home safe every night, while taking care of customers and their freight,” said Chuck Baker, President of ASLRRA. “We are honored today to recognize two individuals whose decades-long commitment to safety has positively influenced the safety culture at their respective railroads.”

Cleo Johnson, Jr., Maintenance-of-Way Foreman, Mississippi Export Railroad, was honored as Safety Person of the Year. This award recognizes a non-management employee of a member railroad who has no reportable personal injuries, works with their company to make safety programs effective, exhibits a high degree of safety awareness, and contributes off-duty time to activities promoting safety awareness and initiatives in the community.

In his 24-year career with the Mississippi Export, Johnson has served in a variety of roles including trackman, speedswing operator, tie remover/inserter, track inspector, and ballast regulator. In the beginning, Cleo worked side-by-side with his father learning the railroad industry and the importance of safety. He continues to attend safety courses to improve his knowledge provided by the Gulf Coast Safety Council, local industries like Chevron Pascagoula Refinery, and others.

“Cleo leads by example - always having his personal safety equipment on, thinking steps ahead for safety vulnerabilities, and coordinating between departments to guarantee everyone knows where the trains, equipment, and employees are at all times. Largely due to Cleo’s vigilance, his department has not experienced an injury in over a decade,” said Kate Luce, president and CEO, Mississippi Export Railroad.

As MOW Foreman, Johnson is responsible for 60-plus miles of railroad track. Johnson also supervises eight employees and three local industry track workers. Mississippi Export has received the ASLRRA Jake Award for the last 12 years, of which eight have been awarded with Distinction.

The Safety Professional of the Year was awarded to David Nagy, executive director of safety, Springfield Terminal d/b/a Pan Am Railway. The Safety Professional of the Year is awarded each year to the railroad management employee who demonstrates an exceptional work ethic and dedication to safety.

Nagy started as a track man with Pan Am Railway, 19 years ago. He was quickly promoted to a position of train dispatcher, then chief, before beginning his current role in safety. Today, Nagy is responsible for employee and community safety consciousness on a regional railroad spanning nearly 1,700 route miles, over five states, with approximately 900 employees.

“His experience in the ranks has provided him with a unique perspective on the need for and implementation of Safety standards. This diverse experience enables him to bring such a passion and understanding to his role,” said Judy Page, Safety Office Manager in Nagy’s letter of nomination. “Through his direct efforts, our system-wide safety record has earned both the coveted E. H. Harriman and Jake Awards through the years.”

At Pan Am, Nagy has developed training programs for both personnel as well as community first responders. He works tirelessly on growing relationships with surrounding Police and Fire departments offering on and offsite training events. He continually seeks unique programs to keep training fresh and engaging while contributing value to the employees of Pan Am and the community.

To be honored with a Jake Award, an ASLRRA member railroad must perform better than the Class II and III industry average injury frequency rate as reported by the FRA during the prior year. Jake Award winners “with distinction” also have an FRA-reported injury-free performance during the same time. Jake Awards are awarded at ASLRRA’s regional fall conferences.

Source: ASLRRA

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