Conductor/Engineer Acts on His Intuition

APRIL 2023 — Trust your intuition. It’s a value Train Service Engineer Michael Brown lives by. And it’s what prompted him to speak up after noticing a small amount of liquid leaking from a dome lid of a loaded but parked railcar waiting to go outbound.

It had been raining on this particular day at Freeport Industrial Rail in Texas. Brown could’ve waved off the liquid as water, but he didn’t. Instead, he stopped operations on the track.

Next, the emergency response team came on-site to identify the substance and secure the railcar. And it turned out not to be water. Watco Safety and Training Manager Ruben Martinez said: “I’m proud of Mike for calling a timeout. He takes to heart Watco’s value of safety.”

Once it was safe to move, the railcar was returned to the customer site by Watco’s Freeport Industrial Rail team. After further investigation the customer discovered the underlying cause of the problem: The railcar’s dome lid was not fastened properly by a third party upon loading.

“Mike acted on a gut feeling,” Martinez said. “Thanks to him, a potential injury or hazard was prevented.”

Assistant General Manager Daniel Salazar adds, “Mike’s a longtime team member. This catch is proof that he stays alert and puts safety first.”

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