An association recently recognized several EM contractors across the DOE complex with a variety of awards for safety, health, innovation, and outreach.
The Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association (VPPPA), which helps worksites advance safety and health goals, honored contractors at the Hanford, Oak Ridge, and Savannah River sites.
The awards highlight a range of accomplishments by the contractors, including developing specialized personal protective equipment, ensuring employees receive critical training while working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, and taking creative approaches to professional development programs.
The VPPPA announced the 2021 awards on its website and will present them at an annual symposium later this summer.
Working through cooperative efforts among labor, management, and government at DOE contractor sites, DOE’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) promotes improved safety and health performance through public recognition of outstanding programs.
Multiple EM contractors at the Hanford Site received recognition for innovation, outreach, and safety, highlighting efforts to both develop and identify specialized personal protective equipment, along with continued proactive measures to keep safety at the forefront.
“The strong safety culture at the Hanford Site is anchored on our collective commitment to the health and safety of our workforce as our top site priority,” said Brian Vance, manager of the EM Office of River Protection and Richland Operations Office. “Our site contractor teammates, with the active participation of the entire workforce, continually demonstrate their commitment to safety through outreach and innovation and are well deserving of this national recognition.”
Central Plateau Cleanup Company (CPCCo) and Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) each won VPP Innovation Awards for their role in developing and implementing an innovation to enhance worker safety.
CPCCo designed and deployed personal protective equipment to improve safety for electrical workers at the site. The customized suits protect electricians from multiple hazards, such as potential arc flashes and airborne chemical or radiological contamination.
WRPS was honored for identifying a chemical filter cartridge that would best protect workers during tank farm operations. This is WRPS’s fifth VPP Innovation Award.
The Volpentest Hazardous Materials Management and Emergency Response (HAMMER) Federal Training Center, managed by Hanford Mission Integration Solutions (HMIS), received a VPPPA Safety & Health Outreach Award for retooling, restarting, and safely delivering critical workforce training throughout the pandemic. The award recognizes companies, individuals, and worksites that reach out to share safety, health, technical, and management expertise developed at their sites.
Don Slaugh, WRPS’s Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council safety representative, also received a VPP Outreach Award for acting as a VPP ambassador. Slaugh was recognized for his dedication, leadership, mentorship, and continued stewardship of “safety first” with employees at Hanford and the greater DOE complex, as well as the Hanford community.
The VPPPA awarded Oak Ridge cleanup contractor UCOR a VPP Innovation Award for its safety training and professional development efforts.
The association recognized the contractor for its creative approach to training, qualification, and professional development programs associated with radiological control, industrial hygiene, and construction and heavy equipment.
“UCOR is constantly looking for ways to enhance safety performance and stands as an example of what a committed and safety-conscious workforce can do,” said Clint Wolfley, UCOR safety systems and services manager. “We will continue to explore and implement training and safety program innovations to ensure our workforce goes home at the end of each workday in the same safe condition they arrived.”
UCOR established an in-house training program for radiological control technicians, which includes a 16-week onboarding period with classroom and on-the-job training. Students work with cutting-edge technologies and instruments that allow them to learn skills in a realistic, hazard-free practical lab environment. They also complete other training programs to prepare for a variety of tasks required for radiological cleanup.
The end result has given UCOR 160 radiological control technicians who have the technical depth of knowledge to rotate between diverse cleanup projects at the Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and East Tennessee Technology Park.
UCOR’s industrial hygiene technician training program includes fundamentals, practical applications, and on-the-job learning experiences. Participants also receive career-progression plans. Best practices from UCOR’s construction and heavy equipment program are shared with DOE, other government agencies, and the private sector.
The contractor’s virtual reality modules aid in the delivery of confined space, heavy equipment operations, and fall protection training. Its heavy equipment spotter training will soon include a first-of-its-kind virtual reality training experience UCOR helped develop.
Savannah River Site
The VPPPA bestowed its Safety & Health Outreach Award on Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) Safety & Health Program Specialist Alex Lee and Design Authority Jennifer Scott for accomplishing outstanding outreach in safety and health. SRNS is the management and operations contractor at the Savannah River Site.
“Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, these two employees made it their mission to engage and energize their co-workers with safety programs and activities,” SRNS President and CEO Stuart MacVean said. “They were able to develop innovative approaches that have allowed the SRNS workforce to remain connected to safety, both in the office and at home.”
Lee developed interactive presentations for new employee orientations and trainings focused on injury prevention. Additionally, Lee designed a safety alert notification that provides employees with safety tips to prevent injuries.
As chair of a safety improvement team, Scott introduces new employees to the SRNS safety culture. She distributed packets to new hires and interns to instill safety as a way of life. The packets include information on safety culture, including local hazards and controls. Scott also implemented a peer program in which experienced members of the safety improvement team serve as safety mentors to new hires.
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