BNSF Intermodal Contractor Safety Orientation (2009)

Intermodal Test is at the bottom of this course.

This course can be duplicated for student handouts.

Once you have read this course and completed  the evaluation you will be forwarded a course completion card (within 14 days) and will be placed on the completion database page immediately. You must have your course completion card to be allowed to work on-site at BNSF, for/with BNSF Intermodal work groups, unless, as in the case of emergency or short notice work, special provisions are made to cover safety issues in a thorough on-site job safety briefing.  

If you are connected through a modem, this page may load slowly due to the photographs.

If you have not yet registered, please make sure that you go to the registration page and register. If you take this course and are not properly registered it may slow our response down in placing your name on the completion database.


These BNSF lntermodal Safety Rules supersedes all previous safety rules, as well as all previous instructions that may be inconsistent with them. They must be observed by all persons in the performance of their duties. Safety is a condition of employment. You will find that living by these rules off the job as well, can also enhance your well-being.

BNSF ISTOP (Intermodal Safe Terminal Operation Process team) teams are comprised of:

o        Railroad service personnel

o        Service partners

o        Intermodal operations employees

These teams are here to develop better work practices and training programs.  

I-stop goals are to:

o        Stop injuries

o        Stop accident

o        Stop damages

o        Stop securement failures

In this program we will focus on procedures that help prevent equipment damages, this includes safe hostling procedures as well as lift equipment and lift operations. Intermodal hubs are constant motion. Trains, lift equipment, tractor trailers and yard vehicle of all sizes, as well as workers on foot all moving in different directions at different times.  Safety should always be your number one priority.  Don't take risks.


You are empowered to stop any operation that you feel is unsafe and report any unsafe conditions.  If you notice any damaged equipment during you daily duties, stop what you are doing and notify your supervisor immediately.  

While working at a BNSF intermodal hub you must follow all BNSF and service company and operating rules.  This includes wearing appropriate personal protective equipment or PPE. 


PPE includes:

o        Safety glasses

o        Steel toed boots

o        Hard hats

o        Reflective vests. 

o        Ask your supervisor if you have any questions concerning PPE. 


Now lets take a look at hostling procedures.  During your initial training you received instructions regarding safety and proper driving techniques.  While keeping them in mind take note of these guidelines.  Set a safe example for all drivers in the terminal by obeying yard and highway safety rules.  

Keep your headlights and mars light on at all times.  Remember to stay alert for train and railcar movements and always yield to lift equipment.  While driving in the terminal, trailer and chassis landing legs prevent their own set of challenges. 

Make certain that they are clear of unlevel surfaces, such as tracks, dips, and bumps and when spotting a trailer or chassis make sure the landing legs are set on the ground before releasing the tractors fifth wheel.  Never drop a unit off a fifth wheel. 


The front of a trailer or chassis should be set about 44 inches above the pavement to allow street tractors access without damaging the equipment.  In the event a trailer has its tandem brakes locked up, don't drag the tires.  Call a mechanic for help.  At times you may encounter a leaning or un-centered load.  If this happens you should use extreme caution. 


Loads such as open tops, flat racks, and tank containers often have high centers of gravity, so use common sense and dont move the unit if there is any risk of it overturning, but most loads can be moved by leaving the tractors fifth wheel down and rolling up the landing legs.  Then proceed with caution.  Make wide slow turns and notify your supervisor.  In busy terminals at times it may be necessary to park chassis in pact arrangement or one in front of another in close rows.  Ideally chassis bolsters should be at least one foot apart.  However, when you must move a chassis in a pact lot use extreme caution.


 Stay alert for pedestrians in the area.  Proceed at no more than 5 mph and leave your tractor only as required.  Once a chassis is hooked up do not proceed until the area within 3 rows is clear of pedestrians and other truck traffic.


Hostler drivers are key members of the loading crew.  When spotting trailers and chassis trackside place them in the best position to minimize crane and side loader movements. Make certain you dont foul the track or crane travel pad. 


Most ramps have clearance lines painted on the track paths.  If lines are not visible then park units no closer than 8 and one half feet from the center of the track.  Spot the trailer or chassis at a slight angle.  This prevents damage to landings legs when tractors are forced to pick up a unit from the side.  Assist the loading crews by pulling chassis pins for rear end loading.    Remember to never double spot units trackside.  This practice will surely result in equipment damage.  When live lift loading is required there must be precise coordination between the lift crew and the hostler.  These procedures take us to our next section. 

Lift equipment operations

The proper operation of lift equipment is crucial to our damage prevention effort.  Cranes and side loaders can easily damage trailers and containers by simply making contact.  The speed of the operation should never be your primary goal.  Safety should be. 


With this in mind, lets take a look at some basic guidelines.  The ground man is the team leader of the loading crew and is required during all TOFC operations.  The lift operator relies on the ground man for instruction.  Standard hand signals should be used. 

o        Down is indicated by pointing an index finger down and making a circular movement. 

o        Up is designated by pointing a finger up and rotating the hand in a circular motion. 

o        Travel signals are made by pointing an arm or hand in the direction of the travel required. 

o        This signal is used to direct a kingpin into the hitch and then signaling for a reverse move to ensure the jaws are locked. 

o        A locked hitch is signaled by raising a clenched fist and should be only be given after the reverse pull is made and securement is verified. 

The lift procedure usually takes about two minutes.  But, in that short period improper technique and poor judgment can result in damage and injury.  A key component in the operation is the crane operator.  The operator should always be aware of his surroundings.  Always know where the ground man is and make certain the way is clear. 


Make smooth movements; avoid abrupt stops and quick starts.  Never move lift equipment when any part of a trailer or container is touching the ground.  And avoid driving long distances while carrying loaded trailers or containers.  When unloading units dont foul the track. 


Never set a unit closer than 8 and one half feet from the center of the track. 


And finally if your lift machine has any difficulty lifting a load, stop and notify your supervisor.  Another important element of lift operations is correctly positioning spreader and lifting arms.  Use guide chains to ensure proper clearance before lowering the arms.  The slightest contact of arms or lift shoes against a trailer can cause substantial damage. Also be aware the twist locks when lowering the spreader.  Make certain they are clear of the units roof.   


When loading trailers, lift the unit at the lift pads.  They made be labeled on the trailer.  The lifting shoes must be fully engaged before lifting the trailer.  A partially engaged lift shoe may result in a trailer falling to the ground.   When trailers have continuous lift pads the front shoe should be positioned either directly in front of or directly behind the landing legs, however, avoid contact with the landing legs as this may result in damaging gearboxes.  The rear-lifting shoe should be in line with the tandem rails.  The shoes can be 25 to 35 feet apart depending on the length of the trailer.  However, do not leave the spreader in the 20 foot retracted position for all trailers.  After the lifting arms are clamped in the correct position slowly lift the trailer.  If you are unloading a trailer raise the rear-end no more than 10 inches to remove the kingpin from the hitch. 

Remember to make slow, smooth movements. 

The wheels of the trailer should be set down first and when possible the trailer should be angled with the front end out to allow easy access for the hostlers picking up the units.  Trailers as well as containers should be positioned clear of the crane paths and trackside clearance.  There are similar loading and unloading guidelines for containers.  As with trailers use the guide chains to position the spreader to engage twist locks or pins.  For twist lock lifts always align them directly above the hole.   Avoid dragging the twist locks across the roof.  Use a similar approach when utilizing side pins.  And always wait for the lock light before you lift the containers.  As with trailers lift the container level with a fluid movement avoiding abrupt stops and starts.


When setting a container onto a chassis there are three acceptable methods.  For J.B. Hunt UPS and all 20-foot containers the unit must be set down on the rear of the chassis first.  For all other containers it is acceptable to front end load the unit, but be careful not to put the entire weight of the container on the gooseneck of the chassis.  The container should be positioned no more than 8 inches behind the front bolsters and then moved forward flush against the bolster.  The front chassis pins should engage in the container floor casting.  Once the front of the container is locked in place slowly lower the rear end onto the chassis tandems.  Making sure the weight is not placed on the chassis landing legs.  This procedure takes precise skill and timing and when it is done properly it is safe and efficient.  The final method of container loading and unloading is the live lift.  This approach is similar to the other method with just a few exceptions.  The driver should lower the fifth wheel to a level position and follow the signals given by the ground man or lift operator.  

Finally lets take a look at raising hitches.  Take note that you should only use approved methods for raising hitches such as a pull up device mounted on a tractor fifth wheel or a nylon strap secured to a lift machine.  To lower hitches use an electric gun, sledgehammer, or a breaker bar.   From hostler operations, to loading and unloading trailers and containers, to raising and lowering hitches it may be a lot to remember but most of it is just common sense.  Safety should be your focus and with your help BNSFs ISTOP teams will succeed in stopping accidents, stopping, injuries, stopping damages and stopping securement failures. 



Course Exam Questions 

BNSF Intermodal Course Exercise Form

Note: Important BNSF SECURITY Effective August 15, 2004, click here for 23kb .pdf     Please print and distribute.

All Questions and answers can be found in BNSF I-Stop video or in BNSF Hub manual. Questions and corresponding correct answers are in bold print.

 General Safety 

1. The highest priority for all workers at BNSF Hub facilities must be:  

a. To work as fast as possible to ensure on time performance. 

b. to work safely and efficiently by knowing and following all Hub safety rules and policies and your company safety rules.  (correct answer) 

c. to work safely but quickly. 

d. to develop new work methods which fit your job.

e. all of the above 

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

2. Anytime you feel there is a safety risk involved in a work task, you  

a. should do the task as carefully as possible.

b. should skip the work to allow someone else with more experience do it.

c. are empowered to stop working; do not attempt the task, and immediately advise your supervisor of the safety risk (correct answer)

d. must discuss with other workers and figure out best way to get the task done.

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

3. It is a requirement that all workers at BNSF Hubs must wear appropriate PPE. PPE is : 

a. Private Personalized Equipment

b. Proper Performance equipment

c. Personal Protective Equipment (correct answer)

d. Protective property Exemption 

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

4. PPE consists of   

a. glasses, safety shoes, helmet

b. gloves, hardhats, safety glasses, reflective vest

c. Safety glasses with permanent side shields, steel-toe boots, hardhat, reflective vest or arm bands (correct answer)

d. hardhat, steel toe boots, glasses, reflective gear, work gloves

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

5. Anytime you notice damage to a piece of equipment, you should 

a.      leave the equipment where it is for someone else to handle

b.      Call 911

c.      Move it out of the way so work can continue, and then tell your supervisor

d.      Leave the equipment as is, and immediately report the damage to your supervisor (correct answer)

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

6. While driving a hostling tractor or a yard service vehicle, you must   

a.      drive very carefully and never pass another vehicle on the right side

b.      keep all vehicle windows closed  and doors locked while driving

c.      obey all safety rules  applicable to the state you are working in, and have flashing warning lights on at all times

d.      drive safely adhering to all Hub and your companys safety rules and have headlights  and mars lights on at all times.

e.      All of the above

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

7. The BNSF  I-STOP stands for 

a. Intermodal Safe Terminal Operations Process

b. Intermodal   - Safety Training Organization Progress

c. Intermodal   -  Securement Training Orientation Process   

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

 8. Goals of I-STOP Teams are to  

a.      Stop accidents

b.      Stop Injuries

c.      Stop damages

d.      Stop securement Failures

e.      All of the above

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

9. When driving in a BNSF Intermodal Hub, you must never drive your vehicle in the travel path of  

a.      Trains

b.      Cranes

c.      Sideloaders

d.      All of the above

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

10. To provide access for outside drivers to get under trailers and containers, Hostler drivers should set chassis and trailer landing legs at  

a.      Minimum of 36 inches above pavement surface

b.      Minimum of 65 inches above pavement surface

c.      Minimum of 44 inches above pavement surface

d.      About normal dock level

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

11. When forced to park chassis in non- designated, packed parking area, chassis bolsters must be a minimum of  

a.      three feet  between bolsters

b.      18 inches between bolsters

c.      4 inches between bolsters

d.      12 inches between bolsters

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

12. When moving chassis in a packed parking lot, do not move the chassis if there are any persons within  

a.      six chassis rows

b.     one chassis row

c.      three chassis rows

d.      two chassis rows

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

13. Any chassis or trailer being spotted to a ramp track for loading must be parked 

a.      outside the painted PUC lines or no closer than 8 and i/2 feet from center of track

b.      No closer than six feet from the railcars

c.      In the same direction as the hitch on railcar

d.      To clear all obstacles extending from railcars and cranes 

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

14. The groundman is required to work directly with the crane 

a.      at all times

b.      only if the two workers are personally compatible

c.      during the loading of all TOFC units to ensure proper securement of hitch before moving to next unit

d.      only during loading of priority trains to prevent any unforeseen delays.

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

 15. When deramping TOFC units from railcars, Lift operators must 

a.      ensure that all rear doors are sealed, tires are fully-inflated, and mudflaps are installed

b.      ensure ground person has lowered landing legs to correct position and has inspected for stability of landing legs

c.      ensure that trailer tandems are set to ground first and that unit is set  no closer than 8 and   feet from track center outside of PUC track clearance lines and not obstructing crane travel path

d. chassis are clear of the railcars and the correct chassis is spotted by container ownership

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

16. To properly lift trailers, operators must align the spreader by 

a.      ensuring spreader is open to full length and end beams are in alignment with the roof of trailer

b.     ensuring guide chains are against sidewall of trailer, lifting shoes are fully clamped at designated lift points, and twist locks do not contact trailer roof

c.      ensuring all four arms are fully extended and under bottom of trailer

d.      all of the above

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

17. The proper method to load UPS and JBHU containers onto chassis is 

a.      to  use sufficient downward force to ensure locking pins align

b.      to set front end of container  down first over chassis gooseneck section  to ensure proper alignment on chassis

c.      using bottom lift  to ensure container does not fail

d.      to set rear end of container down first over chassis tandems to prevent  damage to front of chassis

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

18. When lifting containers, operators must use  

a.      twistlocks, pin lift, or bottom lift methods

b.      Groundman signals to ensure that container is properly locked for lifting

c.      Twistlocks or pin lift only

d.      Bottom lift containers unless loading into doublestack railcars

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

19. When loading TOFC units onto railcars, operators must always 

a.      load front hitch first

b.      have trailer loaded and  locked into hitch before the groundman inspects the car

c.      perform a reverse pull to ensure trailer kingpin is locked into hitch jaws and get visible verification from groundman that trailer is properly locked 

d.      set trailer tandems down first  to prevent damaging front end of trailer

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                 

20. Anytime you are working on railcars, you must always ensure that 

a.      End of track protection is in place before work begins

b.      All obstacles are removed from trackside working area

c.      Hostling tractors are clear of crane pads

d.      Train crews know you are there working

e.      All of the above

 Please type in a,b,c,or d (case sensitive).                   

WHEREAS, you and your company

are obtaining this orientation and any of the materials provided for certain of its employees who work on or about railroad equipment, and WHEREAS, THE BNSF RAILROAD, hereinafter called "BNSF", is willing to provide this orientation and any of the materials provided, but only upon the following terms and conditions, NOW THEREFORE, it is agreed as follows: In consideration of this orientation and any of the materials provided to the management of your company or you as an individual for their internal use by you, hereby assume all risk of and agrees to indemnify and hold BNSF and the administrator of this site harmless from any personal injury to or death of its officers, agents and employees, and loss of or damage to property in its or their custody or possession, which shall in any manner arise from or be alleged to be due to in, in whole or in part, this orientation or materials provided to its employees by BNSF,  EXCEPT TO THE EXTENT SUCH INJURIES OR DAMAGES BE CAUSED BY OR CONTRIBUTED TO BY THE INTENTIONAL MISCONDUCT OR GROSS NEGLIGENCE OF  BNSF, ITS OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, AGENTS, OR ANY THIRD PARTY.  BNSF is hereby released and forever discharged, as well as its subsidiary and affiliated companies, and the officers, agents, and employees of said companies, from all claims, liabilities, and costs of every kind by reason of any such injury to or death of persons and loss of or damage to property. This Release shall be binding upon the submission of this document.

I understand that by submitting my name and, as applicable, the names of the other individuals who have completed this orientation section, I am indicating that these personnel have actually completed this section of the orientation and understand this document. I am an officer of the corporation named above, who is duly authorized and fully empowered by said corporation to execute the same on its behalf or myself as an individual.  

If you receive an error message when you submit your answers, you can email your answers to the Webmaster for processing.

NOTE: If you do not receive your course completion card within 10 working days please email our office.


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