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In 1913 the first Gold medal was awarded to the Southern Pacific Company. In those days safety records were measured and judged by the number of employees killed and injured; in that first year Southern Pacific with the best safety record in the industry had 76 fatalities and 880 employees injured, excluding employees hurt by their own misadventures.
The EH Harriman Safety Award medal was made of solid gold ranging from 10 to 20 carats. The award was originally administered by the American Museum of Safety, and this tradition continued through 1966. In commenting on the use of a gold medal as recognition Dr. Georg Frederick Kunz the Chairman of the American Museum of safety wrote “if artistically executed, medals of this kind will be carefully preserved because of their beauty and will serve as lasting and permanent records. Let us create something that will endure long after we are gone”
In 1967 the World Safety Research Institute administered the award, and from 1972 through 2012 the EH Harriman Memorial Award Institute administered the award. The last gold medal was awarded in 1966, and subsequent year winners were awarded with a gold embossed impression on a certificate. However, post 1966, the winning railroad often had the medal made and awarded it to employees to commemorate their accomplishments.
The first time Union Pacific won the gold medal was in 1924. By the time the award transitioned to the embossed certificate, Union pacific had amassed 17 gold medals with a total weight of 113 gold ounces. Many of these medals remain in the Union Pacific Historic Collection today and are a treasured part of this railroad's history and record in safety.
While the industry no longer awarded the EH Harriman Gold Medal award after 2012, in 2015 Union Pacific recorded the best in industry safety record for the first time since 1984. Union Pacific has now come in first place 25 times, not counting wins by companies that Union Pacific has subsequently acquired. In total, Union Pacific can be traced back to 34 wins.
While we celebrate being number one in safety, we also recognize UP’s long tradition of safety going back to the very early years of the company’s history. We thank our employees’ ongoing commitment to going home safe every day.
To celebrate being number one in safety, we have created the Union Pacific EH Harriman Safety Gold Medal Trophy. This combines elements of both the Union Pacific Shield and EH Harriman Gold Medal and stands as a tall recognition of our long heritage of safety. Recognizing safety starts and ends in our field operations, this trophy will travel from Service Unit to Service Unit and will continue to do so as long as UP is number one in safety. When the Trophy comes to your service unit, please take time to thank your employees and celebrate UP’s long history of and continued commitment to safety.
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