IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – A group within Fluor Idaho, EM’s cleanup contractor at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site, has achieved a new record by working more than a dozen years without a recordable injury or first-aid incident.
The Environmental Restoration (ER) program, which at times has consisted of as many as 100 employees, makes safety crucial to daily work. Some of the current staff of 20 employees participate in a stretch routine before work at Fluor Idaho’s Idaho Falls office building to prevent repetitive strain injury, common in office environments.
ER program personnel also conduct safety briefings to identify and mitigate hazards before working outdoors at the 890-square-mile INL Site. Such work activities include surveillance walk-downs on the desert terrain, collecting water samples from aquifer monitoring wells — some of which are more than 1,000 feet deep — and maintaining previously completed cleanup sites. In addition, summer brings the risk of bee stings, rattlesnakes, and heat stress.
“ER program employees are like a family,” Fluor Idaho Director Marc Jewett said. “They look out for each other and employ the buddy system whenever necessary to protect their colleagues.”
Fluor Idaho Field Team Leader Danny Smith said pre- and post-job briefings are key to the ER program’s safety success.
“Following our pre-job briefings, everyone involved with our field work knows what their responsibilities are,” he said. “At our post-job briefings, which are completed after each field event, we sit down and discuss what went right and how can we improve, and we document it.”
In a related development, DOE’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) honored Fluor Idaho with its distinguished Superior Star Award and recognized the contractor for surpassing 1 million safe work hours during a nearly four-month period in 2018. Recipients of the award have a recordable incident injury rate that is at least 50 percent better than the industry average.
Fluor Idaho President Fred Hughes said he has been working with Jewett to apply some ER program safety initiatives to the entire company.
“They are obviously doing things right,” Hughes said. “We, as a company, can learn from their successes, and we won’t be satisfied until we lead DOE in safe and compliant operations.”
VPP began in 1994 to promote improved safety and health performance through publicly recognizing outstanding programs. Since that time, DOE has seen improved labor and management relations, reduced workplace injuries and illnesses, increased employee involvement, improved morale, and reduced absenteeism at participating sites.