Washington Closure Hanford needs to continue to pay close attention to preventing worker falls to make sure improvements are lasting, according to the Department of Energy.
The DOE contractor made improvements in its program to identify fall hazards and prevent falls after a worker fell 50 feet to the floor through an open hatch in a catwalk in a Hanford building in 2009. He survived after hitting a ladder halfway down.
DOE completed a review this summer, looking at the state of Washington Closure's protection program three years later and made 12 findings, according to a staff report of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board released this week.
DOE views the identified issues as precursors to potential problems, providing information showing what improvements can be made to prevent serious problems, according to DOE.
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"The review also identified that Washington Closure Hanford LLC (WCH) needs to remain diligent in ensuring that corrective actions from previous events continue to be effective and are not diminished when immediate attention wanes," said a letter from DOE contracting officer Jewel Short to Carol Johnson, president of Washington Closure.
Washington Closure has taken immediate steps to correct issues identified in the review, including requesting plans for making corrections from its subcontractors, the letter said. It also has assigned more workers to oversight, reviewed and changed plans developed for specific work and provided training, the letter said.
The review was done after incidents at the first of the year, including work being done within a fall protection line to keep workers away from an area where there was more than a 6-foot-high drop.
Several issues identified in the review related to work done by Washington Closure subcontractors, the report said.
Among the 17 findings was that a guard rail on the 309 Building had been significantly damaged during demolition activities and did not meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration fall protection requirements, according to the DOE report.
In another incident, trap doors in the basement of the 309 Building had been left in the up position to act as a barricade to prevent workers from falling, but they were not properly secured, the report said. Washington Closure made corrections within 24 hours, the report said.
In a third finding, Washington Closure workers found eye bolts in fall protection life line systems that appeared to be counterfeit. The life lines, which were installed over the 337 Building high bay, were taken out of use, but no action was taken to determine why the potential problem had not been spotted before the bolts were installed and used.
However, none of the issues identified in the report resulted in a worker fall.
"We remain diligent in our commitment to safety excellence and protection of our workers," said Washington Closure spokesman Mark McKenna.
Hanford also recently adopted uniform fall protection standards and procedures to be used by most contractors, incorporating the best of each contractor's fall prevention procedures.
-- Annette Cary: 582-1533; firstname.lastname@example.org