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The Right Safety Equipment
Working around a variety of cargos requires wearing appropriate personal protective equipment. Rail cars moving across our line are diligently inspected for component failures according to prescribed safety procedures. From hard hats and safety glasses to self-contained breathing apparatus and full coverage suits, we ensure the safety of our employees in every work environment.
Hazardous materials account for a small percentage of our shipments at Montana Rail Link, yet we take the safety and security aspects of these shipments very seriously.
Transporting hazardous materials is crucial to the nation’s viability. Railroads are vital to the national defense, economy and public health. They provide critical support to the Department of Defense Strategic Rail Corridor Network which includes more than 30,000 miles of rail line for the movement of Department of Defense shipments.
Railroads have a “common carrier” obligation to carry hazardous materials. That means that, unlike all other modes of transportation, railroads are required by the federal government to transport these materials, whether railroads want to or not. To address the risk and liability that railroads are forced to assume when they carry highly hazardous traffic, railroads support public policies that encourage chemical producers and users to substitute less hazardous products and technologies for highly hazardous materials whenever possible. (Source: Association of American Railroads 2/10)
Railroads have an outstanding track record in safely delivering hazardous materials. 99.998% of all rail cars containing hazardous materials arrived at their destination safely, without any release of hazmat into the environment due to an accident. In fact, the rail hazmat accident rate has declined by 88% from 1980 to 2007 and 39% since 1990. Railroads and over-the-road trucks carry roughly equal hazmat ton-mileage, but trucks have 16 times more accidental hazmat releases during shipment than railroads. Statistically, railroads are the safer form of transportation for hazardous materials.
At Montana Rail Link, we provide mandatory hazmat awareness training to all employees who interact with hazmat shipments. This gives our people a clear understanding of what materials we ship, how to properly identify them, and methods to ensure their safe delivery to destination. We have highly trained hazmat technicians on staff at key locations across our system to aid in keeping the communities we serve safe. In addition, we work closely with fire departments all along our line and offer cross-training exercises dealing with hazmat shipments. This not only helps raise the level of awareness in local communities, but it offers the law enforcement officers and fire fighters an opportunity to familiarize themselves with our system and work closely with our employees.
While providing essential service to our customers, Montana Rail Link takes no shortcuts in the safe handling and delivery of hazardous materials.