Working through cooperative efforts among labor, management, and government at DOE contractor sites, the VPP promotes improved safety and health performance through public recognition of outstanding programs. The awards by the Voluntary Protection Program Participants' Association (VPPPA) were made at its recent national symposium in New Orleans.
Two employees at the Hanford Site were honored with the VPP Champion Award, given to only three employees in the DOE complex each year. The awardees were Jack Griffith, with CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CHPRC), and Vern Prosser, with Waste Treatment Completion Company.
“The Champion Award recognizes individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to advance the message and spirit of VPP and mentor other organizations in safety performance,” Hanford Manager Brian Vance said. “Thank you, Jack and Vern, for your many years of contributions to the health and safety of so many workers.”
Several contractors also received the VPP Star of Excellence award, presented to VPP Star sites that maintain an injury/illness rate at least 75 percent below the industry average. Some also were honored with the Legacy of Stars award.
Developing the workforce of the future is a key commitment for EM. Billy Edington, an employee of Oak Ridge cleanup contractor UCOR, has performed that work for more than 15 years as a trainer and mentor. The VPPPA awarded him the 2019 Safety and Health Outreach Award.
Edington serves as a trainer for the United Steelworkers Tony Mazzocchi Center (USW/TMC) for health, safety, and environmental education. The center provides training to thousands of individuals in the U.S. and abroad.
Edington spearheaded a collaboration that provides safety and hazardous waste training to high school students in areas near DOE’s site in Oak Ridge.
“Offering these training classes to local high schools is very gratifying because it helps to ensure a pool of talented, skilled workers to address cleanup needs of the future,” Edington said. “It also gives students in these rural areas an advantage as they transition into the workplace.”
UCOR also received the Safety and Health Outreach Award for its work at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), a former enrichment complex at Oak Ridge. Oak Ridge's EM program and UCOR are working toward achieving Vision 2020, the goal to complete major cleanup at ETTP by the end of 2020.
Savannah River Remediation (SRR), EM’s liquid waste contractor at the Savannah River Site (SRS), won the Innovation Award for its efforts to protect workers from mercury vapors, which can be found at SRS as a byproduct of processing nuclear materials.
In 2018, SRR’s industrial hygiene team installed air sampling units to sample and monitor mercury levels as part of a pilot project. The units simultaneously sample air quality for mercury vapors at eight separate locations across the site’s Effluent Treatment Facility (ETF), providing nearly real-time results for each environment every 25 minutes. Previously, the facility relied solely on hand-held detection devices carried by workers.
Jim Folk, DOE-Savannah River assistant manager for waste disposition, said DOE views employee safety as the most important part of any job.
“Across the entire Savannah River Site, employee safety is of special importance,” Folk said. “Each individual within the liquid waste program performs a significant task, helping us accomplish our overall mission of properly and safely disposing of waste.”
SRR has won the Star of Excellence award each year since it became the SRS liquid waste contractor in 2009, except for 2014 and 2018 when SRR earned the Legacy of Stars award in lieu of the Star of Excellence.
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), the SRS management and operations contractor, was awarded its 17th Star of Excellence for demonstrating continued excellence in safety programs, performance, and culture.
“SRNS has always strived to instill a strong safety culture in employees,” SRNS President and CEO Stuart MacVean said. “Receiving our 17th Star of Excellence validates our workforce’s commitment to ensuring our company remains the industry leader in nuclear and workplace safety.”
At EM’s West Valley Demonstration Project Site, Dae Chung, EM Deputy Assistant Secretary for Safety, Security, and Quality Assurance, presented employees with contractor CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley with the Star of Excellence award during a recent visit to the site.
“The safety and health of our employees, both contractor and federal, are the highest priorities for the Department,” Chung said.
WVDP first received the Star of Excellence award in 2000, the second DOE site to receive the honor after EM’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. WVDP has received the award every year since. Next year will mark 20 years that WVDP has flown the VPP flag over the site. WVDP also was the first DOE site to receive the Legacy of Stars award.
“It is my honor to present this award to the WVDP in recognition of your ongoing commitment to safety,” Chung said. “I look forward to your continued success.”
This year, eight Hanford organizations received the Star of Excellence award:
- CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company
- Intermech, a subcontractor to Waste Treatment Completion Company
- Mission Support Alliance, for the Volpentest Hazardous Materials Management and Emergency Response Federal Training Center
- Mission Support Alliance, for its mission support services division
- Mission Support Alliance, for its safeguards and security division
- Washington River Protection Solutions
- Waste Treatment Completion Company
- Wastren Advantage, Inc., for the 222-S Laboratory
VPPPA also recognized CHPRC and Washington River Protection Solutions with Safety and Health Outreach awards.
"Our safety focus and responsibilities are integral to accomplishing our important cleanup mission at Hanford, a great public work for the Pacific Northwest and our nation," Vance said.