Meet the Safety Culture Assessors

The Safety Assessor is the main contact during the course of the assessment.  Safety Institute assessors are continuously trained on best practices for safety culture, and a variety of compliance issues.

Pat Black, Safety Culture Assessor
From 2012 to 2014, Pat worked for WATCO Companies LLC as the Director of Operations Gulf Region. From 2006-2012, he held multiple positions at OmniTRAX including General Manager – Hudson Bay Railway, General Manager – Coors Switching Facility, General Manager – Great Western Railway, Director of Marketing and Sales- Northern Region. Starting his career as a Switchman, Pat began obtaining extensive knowledge as he was promoted to Brakeman, Conductor, Engineer, and then Yardmaster which required strict compliance with Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) rules and regulations. Beginning in April of 1977, Pat has gained superior knowledge in safety features and regulations in the United States and Canada. Pat is an expert in General Code of Operating Rules, Hazmat, AB&TH, and Transportation Safety Rules. Pat is a valuable asset to the Short Line Safety Institute team and brings knowledge, experience, and attention to minute detail to increase productivity and increase everyday safety for our employees.

Dave Buccolo, Safety Culture Assessor

Dave Buccolo began his railroad career in 1968, quickly realizing that safety was going to be the number one priority.  His 40+ year career included experience with four Class 1 railroads in operations, safety and hazmat training and response, as a General Manager of a Short Line, and a General Manager of a joint facility railroad serving the port of Stockton, CA and the central valley of California.
Buccolo is active in the industry, serving as a member and on the executive committee of TRANSCAER NTTG, and as a member of the ASLRRA Safety and Training Committee. Dave’s constant drive to make the industry safer, his background in operations, safety, risk management, track and mechanical operations, and his collaborative approach to instilling safety in the workplace are evident in his work as an Assessor.
A trained Hazmat Technician, Railroad tank car specialist, Incident commander. A certified locomotive engineer and Conductor and Track inspector. Dave and his wife Marie enjoy spending time with the grandkids and family riding their tandem bike, taking trips camping in their travel trailer.

Sam Cotton, Safety Culture Assessor

Previously in 2011, Sam started working as the Divisional General Manager for Omnitrax Central Division.  From 2007 to 2011, Sam was the General Manager for Omnitrax’s Panhandle Northern Railroad (PNR). In 2009, Sam was awarded the ASLRRA Safety Person of the Year and the PNR-ASLRRA Most Improved Railroad of the Year.
Prior to PNR, in 2000 to 2007, Sam was the General Manager for Alliance Terminal Railroad. Staring work for OmniTRAX in 1997, Sam held many titles such as Superintendent, Conductor, and Engineer.
He was responsible for planning, directing, and implementing safety programs ensuring a cleaner, more secure accident free work environment. Prior to joining the railway industry, Sam had a 12 year career in Law Enforcement. Sam Cotton’s dedication, extensive knowledge, and reliability are true assets that the Short Line Safety Institute Team value most. In his spare time, Sam enjoys the outdoors and pursuing his second passion, professional bass fishing.

Robert Wayne Hamm, Safety Culture Assessor
Prior to joining the Short Line Safety Institute, Wayne was employed at H&H Railroad Consulting, LLC as the President and Director of Training. He was responsible for sales and profit/loss management to include financial, administrative, personnel, inventory control, customer relations, A/R & A/P, and bookkeeping for this start-up operation. Prior to H & H Railroad Consulting, LLC, Wayne was the General Road Foreman of Engines for OmniTRAX from 2007-2013. This position required the certification and recertification of Locomotive Engineers and Conductors, visiting properties to monitor performance, and responding to inquiries regarding policies, procedures, & programs. From 2003-2007, he was the Manager of Safety and Operating Practices at RailAmerica. He started his railroad career with the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1978 and has held various positions such as Brakeman, Conductor, Locomotive Engineer, Supervisor of Locomotive Engineers, Rules Examiner & Locomotive Engineer class trainer & certifier, and regional manager of safety and operating practices. He was instrumental in authoring a Locomotive Engineers Training program used by many short line throughout the country with the birth of CFR 49 240 Regulations. Wayne attended Sam Houston State University and Southwest Texas State University.

Robert Lee, Safety Culture Assessor

Robert has had a long history in the railroad industry, beginning in 1974 on the Missouri Kansas and Texas (MKT) starting out as a clerk in the Denison Yard office prior to entering the engineer-training program.  After working as an engineer for several years, Robert entered management as Road Foreman of Engines, and progressed to the position of Director of Rules and Safety for the MKT.  Robert remained in rules and safety until he retired in 2004 after over 30 years, writing, teaching and promoting safety and rules compliance.  Robert was privileged to be part of the original committee developing and publishing the first and subsequent issues of the General Code of Operating Rules for the railroad and served thirty years as secretary of the GCOR Rules Committee until he retired in 2004. After retirement, Robert continued to assist railroads in training on the GCOR, writing training materials and improving exam formats. During the years following retirement, Robert has had the opportunity to conduct several two-week rules training classes for new employees on one of the larger short line railroads. Robert's long and extensive career in operating and safety rules are true assets that the Short Line Safety Institute Team values. 

Randy Matson, Safety Culture Assessor

Prior to joining the Short Line Safety Institute, Randy was employed by OmniTRAX as the General Manager for NKC Railway from 2009 to 2016. Under his leadership and up to his retirement in 2016, NKC Railway experienced its best ever safety record in its twenty-one years of operation. He was named the Safety Person of the Year for all of OmniTRAX in 2013.  Prior to his term as General Manager, Randy served as Chief Mechanical Officer and Superintendent of Operations for NKC. Randy began his railroad career in 1977 with the Union Pacific as an electrician in the mechanical department and worked supervising crews in the proper maintenance and repairs of the locomotive fleet. Randy carries his belief in safety home to his children and grandchildren by insisting on personal protective equipment and job safety briefings prior to any task beginning. 


J R Sampson, Safety Culture Assessor
Prior to working for ASLRRA, he was employed by OmniTRAX from 2004 to 2013 as the Director of Safety and Rules and was promoted to Vice President of Safety and Rules. Before working for OmniTRAX, JR worked for RailTex/Rail America as a Train Service Operations Manager, Trainmaster, Manager of Rules, and was responsible for training new employees. Between 1986 and 1992, J R worked for Jackson Jordan as a Rail Grinder Operator and Forman. Before Jackson Jordan, J R started his 40 year career as a Brakeman in 1976 for Missouri Pacific Railroad.  J R earned his Associate of Arts from Crowley’s Junior College, studied 2 years of Psychology at Arkansas State University, and earned a Bachelor’s of Sacred Literature at Northside School of Preaching.  J R understands the complexity of Safety in the railway system from the yard to the office. He is a strong asset to the Safety Institute and has the background to prove it. 



Ralph Weber, Safety Culture Assessor

Ralph Weber’s railroad experience began on the DM&IR Railroad (now part of CN) as a tie gang member. His career included positions in operations, safety, and management. Weber has served as a member of the Governors Railroad Safety Advisory Committee, has worked with a variety of railroad safety programs on both a national and international level and has led employers to receipt of safety awards on a local and national level.   
Weber brings extensive hands-on experience with: directing the development, implementation and administration of policies with regard to FRA and OSHA safety standards; environmental issues at federal, state, and local levels; and development of programs related to Risk Management, Safety Management, and Loss Prevention. 
Weber holds a Master’s Degree in Industrial Safety from the University of Minnesota, Duluth; is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), and a qualified OSHA 10 / 30 Trainer. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, and also enjoys the outdoors, especially fishing and golfing.


Wade Swindle, Safety Culture Assessor

Wade Swindle brings over 41 years of railroading experience to the job.  Beginning as a brakeman in 1975 at CRANDIC, Wade’s career includes operations and mechanical positions, as well as supervisory responsibilities.

After running a startup transportation business for AET providing rail tank car servicing for several years, Swindle spent the last 17 years of his career as the Safety Manager of three companies – CRADIC RR, IES Barge Service and WBT, a transloading facility.