BNSF: Star Tribune Continues to Deliberately Mislead Public Concerning BNSF Safety and Injury Record

FORT WORTH, Texas — BNSF is challenging what it termed “deliberate bias” in the Star Tribune newspaper’s cherry-picking unrepresentative and isolated incidents to imply an unsafe culture at the company.

“The Star Tribune’s biased reporting simply cannot be squared with the salient facts,” said John Ambler, BNSF vice president, Corporate Relations. “Their approach has been to take a predetermined nefarious conclusion and patch together snippets of incomplete or misleading information to prop it up. Inconvenient truths that are contrary to the Star Tribune’s bias are buried in the story, linked on their website, or completely ignored. BNSF has researched and provided the Star Tribune an extraordinary amount of facts and information about decades old-cases, most of which has been ignored or disregarded by the Star Tribune.”

The Star Tribune’s portrayal of BNSF as a company that does not care about employee safety is flatly refuted by BNSF’s superior safety statistics.

In 2009, BNSF’s injury rate record was better (2.0 per 200,000 employee hours) than the railroad industry (2.2) in general, and far better than comparable businesses, the company said. BNSF’s rate of 2.0 injuries per 200,000 person hours worked is significantly lower than the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2009 incident rates for Educational services (2.3), Mining (3.2), Heavy and civil engineering construction (3.8), Forestry and logging (4.0), Truck transportation (4.6), Health care and social assistance (5.0), Warehousing and storage (5.7), Air transportation (8.5). In fact, BNSF’s safety record is 23 percent better than that of the Printing industry responsible for manufacturing the Star Tribune and other newspapers.

Contrary to the Star Tribune’s suggestion, all BNSF employees in every aspect of the business are encouraged to conduct their activities honestly and ethically. Failure to do so has resulted in disciplinary actions, including terminations. The company provides a number of mechanisms to allow employees to report concerns confidentially. As an example, confidential hotlines are provided for anonymous reporting of concerns, with multiple reviews of findings.

“The isolated incidents that the Star Tribune has myopically focused on out of the context of over one hundred thousand employees who have worked for BNSF over four decades certainly does not portray an accurate account of the company, our culture or our people,” said Ambler. “BNSF is proud to have many third and fourth generation employees and several dedicated railroaders each year who mark fifty years of service. It’s an insult to the more than 38,000 current employees to suggest that they would knowingly engage in inappropriate activities or encourage their children and grandchildren to work in a place that allows such conduct. Our employees are good people who work hard to serve our customers and the communities in which we operate.”

BNSF has posted facts about these incidents and contextual information at www.bnsf.com/casefacts, a website created to correct errors and omissions in the Star Tribune’s series, the company said.