The Department of Energy has given its highest safety recognition to the Bechtel National construction site at Hanford where the vitrification plant is being built.
The project has been honored with Voluntary Protection Program Star status for safe work practices during construction. The construction project has had Voluntary Protection Program Merit status since 2008 as the site worked toward star status.
Annual reviews since then have showed steady improvement, according to the review written after the latest on-site review in June. The number of worker accidents and injuries at the site has decreased, the review said.
"Managers are communicating more effectively with workers, and worker participation in safety programs has increased significantly," the review said.
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It found that workers at the construction site were willing to report all injuries, including minor injuries, and no longer described feeling pressure to remain silent, the review said.
In addition, improvements in the site's Integrated Safety Management System program have brought it to the level of best practices in some instances, including in the hazard analysis process, the review said.
When the review team observed some complacency in the control of overhead loads on cranes, the team observed managers immediately addressing the issue, the review said.
The 1,500 workers at the construction site comprise the largest construction work force within the DOE complex. DOE's Voluntary Protection Program promotes safety and health excellence through cooperative efforts among labor, management and government.
The award for safety at the construction site is unrelated to other reviews concerning the eventual safe and efficient operation of the plant to treat radioactive waste.
In addition, Intermech, a subcontract at the vitrification plant, has been given recertification of Voluntary Protection Program Star status by DOE. In 2008 it became the first construction subcontractor nationwide to receive star staus.