ASLRRA 2021 Safety Professional of the Year:
Herman Crosson

The American Shortline Railroad Association’s Professional of the Year award is bestowed to a short line and regional railroad safety management employee who is able to work effectively with personnel at all levels of the organization and industry, an employee who also supports the success of the short line industry in safety through the sharing of expertise and knowledge and the application of all regulatory requirements.

“As Patriot Rail’s safety leader, Herman inspires by example, starting with his continuing current FRA certifications as Locomotive Engineer and Conductor. The VISION ZERO campaign that Herman implemented at Patriot Rail begins with Herman’s own personal commitment and applies to everyone throughout the organization – Remember: No job is so important, no service so urgent that we cannot take time to perform all work safely. We can never afford to place productivity ahead of safety. Patriot’s VISION ZERO centers on engaging employees, enabling alignment and ownership of safety by all,” said John Fenton, CEO of Patriot Rail.

The introduction that Mr. Crosson uses to describe Patriot’s VISION ZERO program illustrates his inclusive philosophy. “Getting to incident-free performance requires rethinking how we approach safety activities, the measures we use to monitor progress and define success, and the way we approach engagement of employees at all levels . . . It means creating an environment where incidents are not acceptable and where we do everything possible to prevent them.”

In addition to spearheading the Vision Zero project, Crosson drives Patriot Rail’s Safety Committee program which focuses employees on identifying and preventing root cause practices, in addition to complying with regulations. Operating employees nominate their peers as leaders, and teams meet monthly conducting a range of inspections and identify new potential risks. This constant engagement promotes a dialogue across the company on continuing best practices – a critical element of a safety-focused culture.

Beyond his safety responsibilities at Patriot Rail, Crosson urges members of the community to keep safety at the forefront of their minds. A member of the U.S. Army National

Guard, Crosson’s selfless devotion to duty was recognized with his promotion to Colonel effective December 20, 2020. Upon his appointment to his current post June 1, 2020,

Crosson became the first Black commander of the South Carolina National Guard 59th Troop Command at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, leading 1,600 soldiers. Over the past year, the Brigade has supported 280,000 COVID testing and vaccination sites in South Carolina, and data centers for vaccination scheduling. At the onset of COVID, the Brigade delivered more than

100,000 meals to school children, and the medics have supported hospitals during the COVID surges which helped offset the need for civilian medical professionals.

Crosson is also actively involved in his church, assisting with security.

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