Much has been said and written about the role culture plays in the safety performance of organizations across all industries. Understanding that accidents cannot simply be blamed on those directly at fault, this paper explores organizational culture and the part it has played in contributing to the cause of rail and other transportation accidents. This paper also discusses the pivotal role of organization leaders in setting cultural norms and priorities that either bolster or hinder safety. Structure, budget, mission statement, and values, which are established by leaders, all demonstrate the importance of safety to employees and others.

At the same time, organizations focused on production run the very real risk of placing safety second. This is a particular concern with transportation providers who may be pressured to focus on performance and schedule adherence, at the cost of safety Recommendations for improvement of organizational culture are provided, with a focus on generally accepted best practices.

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