At BNSF Railway, the safety of our employees and contractors, customers and the communities we serve is important to us. We are taking the necessary precautions to protect their health and safety as well as ensure that our operations are not impacted from the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
In response, we have been following the guidance and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local public health agencies. Our Medical team continues to closely monitor the situation on any additional measures that should be implemented.
Our company plays a vital role in supporting the nation’s economy and delivers the goods on which communities across our country depend—especially during times of need. We understand that the COVID-19 situation is extraordinary, placing additional strain on both work and home life. Many of our employees —such as train crews, dispatchers, maintenance and engineering crews and others—play a critical role in daily train operations and customer support. While rail service must continue during this time for our customers, our communities and our nation, we will continue to take additional actions to protect the health of our employees and ensure we operate as safely as possible.
To minimize the risk of transmission to those employees who cannot perform their work remotely, we will take a phased approach to welcome back employees who have been working from home. This phased approach will continue until all employees may return. The timing of each phase will depend on many factors, including local COVID-19 risk levels with the highest priority remaining the safety of employees while protecting our essential operations. We will continue to limit visitors to our corporate headquarters and other major facilities as well as restrict employee travel.
While we maintain the decision to be vaccinated for COVID-19 is a personal one—and have encouraged employees to make the decision that is best for them and their families—the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate now obligates BNSF to require employees to be vaccinated and we are working toward that end. BNSF does have a process for an employee to request an accommodation to be exempted from the mandate due to a medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief.
Regarding BNSF’s continuity of operations, we have well-established plans to ensure that rail service is maintained throughout any workforce disruptions, including those caused by a pandemic. All BNSF facilities remain open with additional safety protocols in place.
BNSF is working closely with customers and partners to ensure that resources are positioned where they will be needed most so that we can continue to provide reliable transportation solutions as the situation evolves. In this effort, we remind customers to please share information on anticipated volumes with your BNSF representative as frequently as possible. We are confident that we have the equipment, facilities and other resources needed to handle our customers’ transportation needs. We will provide additional updates on our COVID-19 response as developments occur.