2017 Safety Professional of the Year

Ron Sparks, Director of Safety, Training & Legal Affairs and Chief of Police, Arkansas & Missouri Railroad

The Safety Professional of the Year Award is given to an ASLRRA member railroad management employee who demonstrates an
exceptional work ethic and dedication to safety. 

Gary Vaughn, ASLRRA Safety & Training Committee Chairman, presented the 2016 Safety Professional of the Year Award to Ron Sparks, Arkansas & Missouri Railroad (A&M) Director of Safety, Training and Legal Affairs. Sparks not only meets the criteria set forth for the award, but he also exemplifies the title of safety professional. During his career with A&M, Sparks has diligently worked to improve A&M’s safety record and its culture. He is organized, well-spoken and determined in his efforts to keep safety goals at the forefront of each employee’s mind.

Sparks is an effective leader who is willing to collaborate and listen to any concerns from his fellow managers or employees. “You have to be passionate about safety, and then you have to have the compassion to go along with it,” he said. “When you’re dealing with [employees] who might have serious personal issues at home that might affect their work, you need to be astute enough to see that they have a problem and ask, ‘What can I do to help?’"

  Click here to view video from our Annual Convention with more details on this year's winner.

2017 Safety Person of the Year

Keith LaPorte, Bridge Program Manager, Old Augusta Railroad, LLC

The Safety Person of the Year Award recognizes a non-management employee of a member railroad who has never had a reportable personal injury in his or her career, works with management on effective safety programs, exhibits a high degree of safety awareness and contributes of-duty time to activities promoting safety awareness in the community.

This year’s winner, Keith LaPorte, Bridge Program Manager for Old Augusta Railroad (OAR), in New Augusta, Mississippi, offered specific advice for his peers gathered at ASLRRA 2017 CONNECTIONS: “I encourage you to work safe because it is the right thing to do, and it will make a difference in someone’s life.”

These words, instilled in him by his first general manager at OAR, resonate with LaPorte, who had seen a coworker get seriously injured on the job. This accident (which happened at a different employer) left such a deep impression that he made a commitment to himself to never let that happen again to someone with whom he worked.

Click here to view video from our Annual Convention with more details on this year's winner.