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Making operations as safe as possible is everyone's goal


Mark Dudle

Manager, Industrial Hygiene
Norfolk Southern
Atlanta, GA
19 years in industry

In his 19 years as an industrial hygienist for Norfolk Southern (NS), Mark Dudle has seen some memorable things. One he'll never forget is riding the first NS freight train over the Lake Ponchatrain bridge two weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. “Everything was still flooded,” Dudle recalls, “but our railroad was functional.”

As one of two NS industrial hygienists, Dudle's job is to identify, evaluate and control workplace exposures, either within the rail yards or in the communities NS passes through. Dudle tests the air, water and soil for possible contaminants, and monitors possibly harmful noise levels endemic to railroad life. It's a job that involves nearly all parts of the freight rail industry, allowing Dudle to work with literally anyone at NS or any individual the railroad touches. Dudle is able to use the science he studied in school—biology and chemistry—in practical ways, largely because the railroad industry lends itself to his field. “People at Norfolk Southern want to make operations as safe as possible, and everybody's got the same goal in mind.”

It's important to him that his three kids can relate to his work. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, they were able to see on TV where their dad was working. When Dudle participates in his kids' school career days, students are fascinated with the respirators and air monitoring equipment that are the tools of his trade. “People are just attracted to the rail industry.” he says. “Kids are especially fascinated. Everything looks big to kids, but trains, they are big.”

Today Dudle is glad he chose to work for Norfolk Southern after completing his graduate degree at the University of Alabama. “I thought it was a good opportunity, an interesting industry, and I thought it was a job where



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