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We helped the nation’s largest railroad keep safety rates on the right track.

The nation’s largest railroad came to us with a challenge. After seeing initial declines in their reportable employee injury and safety incident rates, stagnation set in. The railroad had essentially exhausted all their non-data-based safety/risk-mitigation measures and was at a loss as to what actions to take next.

Enter First Analytics.

Our goal was to help the railroad move beyond programs and initiatives based on intuition and instead, base safety efforts on predictive modeling.

It’s All About the Data

Prior to partnering with us, the railroad collected vast amounts of safety-related data but had not applied analytics to any of it. Our team of data scientists, statisticians and data engineers worked together to develop custom algorithmic and mathematical models based on data they already had, and then integrated and aggregated those data sets into order to gain valuable insight.

We developed predictive safety analytic models against general employee risk assessment data and uncovered key areas to take pre-emptive actions. The data highlighted was: which employees, at a day-shift level were most at risk for a safety incident and where the focus was needed (i.e. rules compliance, training, etc.).  In short, we made it personal; we made it preemptive; and we made it work.

Our Approach

We took a deep dive into the business process to uncover the hotspots for intervention and then analyzed and validated all the data. After seeing positive results, we then helped develop and implement focused safety initiatives across multiple employee groups, including: transportation, engineering and mechanical — all with minimal disruption to day-to-day operations.


After years of flat performance, the railroad realized significant gains in their reportable injury rates:

Back-to-back 11% improvements in reportable injury rates from 2014 to 2015 and again from 2015 to 2016.

A 2016 reportable injury rate that was the best in their 154-year history.

Safest North American Railroad running from 2015 to 2018

“There are twenty-five hundred operating managers…there’s no way we can look, spend time with, teach all the employees, all the time, every day. This is about focusing management attention on those who exhibit more risk. Since we turned a lot of this on, it’s been a step function: a full standard deviation from our normal run rate.”
– Rodd Doerr, VP of Safety, Nation’s Largest Railroad

We applied advanced analytics and predictive models to:

  • Identify risk factors
  • Evaluate effectiveness of safety programs/processes
  • Predict which employees were most at risk for accident or injury

First Analytics has been helping companies use analytics to solve their most important and complex business problems for over 10 years. Founded by Tom Davenport (Competing on Analytics) and Michael Thompson, it has been First Analytics’ mission to advance businesses in their analytic maturity, whether just getting started or accelerating on the more expert end of the continuum. One-time analysis or end-to-end applications. Big data or small. On-premise or in the cloud. We help make analytics a vital element of your daily operations and a key to sustainable growth and success.

We are First Analytics

First Analytics has staff across the US and is based in the Research Triangle of North Carolina – an epicenter of analytics. We are headquartered in Cary, North Carolina. 

Call (919) 521-5519 or email today.

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