BNSF Honors 12 Safety Coordinators in its Central Region as Safety Employees of the Year

Apr 21, 2016

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) has named 12 safety coordinators in its Central Region as Safety Employees of the Year. They were all recognized for their efforts at BNSF’s annual Employees of the Year ceremony in Fort Worth, Texas. Rick Batten, yardmaster and Central Region safety coordinator, accepted the honor on behalf of his 11 co-workers in the Central Region.

The annual Employees of the Year program is designed to recognize employees who demonstrate BNSF’s vision and values through their commitment, leadership and focus on working safely and efficiently to meet customer expectations. Their achievements positively impact BNSF customers, fellow employees, owners and the communities served by BNSF. Of the more than 40,000 team members across the company, 52 employees were recognized during the ceremony for their individual and team achievements in 2015. An additional 40 BNSF employees were acknowledged for their safety leadership last year – all of whom led teams that worked throughout 2015 without a reportable injury.

“Our Employees of the Year program is a way to recognize our people for outstanding efforts and results. I’m grateful for the Central Region’s safety coordinators’ hard work and dedication,” said Carl Ice, BNSF president and chief executive officer. “They are a reflection of our entire team’s commitment to always remaining focused on safety, serving our customers, and delivering on the integral role we play in moving our global economy forward.”

"It can take a lot of time, but if we’re creating a safer railroad, then it is worth every effort. "

Based in Lincoln, Neb., Batten joined BNSF 38 years ago. In his role as yardmaster he watches for changing conditions that could result in potential hazards, such as a fast moving storm. As the safety coordinator, Batten identified an alert system that could notify yardmasters when lightening is within a 5-mile radius in order to give crews enough time to seek shelter. Batten also worked with Telecommunications to create a way for the yardmasters to be able to access all the radio channels in their area of responsibility at the same time. This project resulted in an emergency button, which allows the yardmasters to reach all employees within radio range at their terminal with a push of a button. As a result of Batten’s efforts, these systems are now in place across BNSF’s network.

“As a safety coordinator, I continually challenge myself to look for solutions while working with other coordinators,” Batten said. “It can take a lot of time, but if we’re creating a safer railroad, then it is worth every effort.”

For well over a decade at BNSF, a team of safety coordinators, jointly chosen by their unions and management, have been focused on reducing risk and creating a safer workplace. These safety coordinators represent and support safety initiatives for their respective unions, divisions and regions. They have played a crucial role in building a safety culture of commitment by helping facilitate training, sharing ideas for making the workplace safer and engaging employee-led site safety teams.

BNSF recognized the following safety coordinators, who work on the Central Region team with Batten: Roger Cadden, locomotive engineer from Amory, Miss., Darin Denisar, locomotive engineer from Beardstown, Ill., Pat Engebrecht, locomotive engineer from La Junta, Colo., Roy Helm, locomotive engineer from Lincoln, Neb., Jimmy Hymes, locomotive engineer from Beardstown, Ill., Mike LaCrue, locomotive engineer from Trinidad, Colo., Brad Merriman, locomotive engineer from Edgemont, S.D., Milton Peters, locomotive engineer from Kansas City, Mo., Jeremy Shepherd, conductor from Casper, Wyo., Devon Smoot, locomotive engineer from Thayer, Mo., and Steven Waller, conductor from Sterling, Colo.

At the ceremony, the Mechanical, Engineering, Telecommunications and Intermodal Business Unit Operations teams each recognized an individual Safety Employee of the Year, while Transportation acknowledged the 36-member safety coordinator team. Three safety coordinator representatives attended the ceremony on behalf of the larger team. All of these honorees were recognized for their efforts to improve safety within the industry and their communities.

BNSF’s continued safety improvements – assisted by the efforts of the Safety Employees of the Year – move it closer to achieving the company’s vision of an injury- and incident-free workplace. For a complete list of honorees and a video of the Safety Employees of the Year, please visit

About BNSF
BNSF Railway is one of North America’s leading freight transportation companies operating on 32,500 route miles of track in 28 states, and also operates in three Canadian provinces. BNSF is one of the top transporters of consumer goods, grain and agricultural products, low-sulfur coal, and industrial goods such as petroleum, chemicals, housing materials, food and beverages. BNSF’s shipments help feed, clothe, supply, and power American homes and businesses every day. BNSF and its employees have developed one of the most technologically advanced, and efficient railroads in the industry. We work continuously to improve the value of the safety, service, energy, and environmental benefits we provide to our customers and the communities we serve. You can learn more about BNSF at