Over the past 24 years and spanning three liquid waste contractors, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management’s (EM) construction team at the Savannah River Site (SRS) has achieved 35 million safe hours without injury resulting in a missed day of work.
The team reached this accomplishment while undertaking numerous significant projects to support EM’s overall liquid waste mission at the site.
The total accumulation of hours dates to June 1998. This milestone was reached under the current liquid waste contractor, Savannah River Mission Completion (SRMC). SRMC’s safety-first culture and emphasis on maintaining a safe working environment builds upon the legacy of previous liquid waste contractors to make the achievement possible.
The term “safe hours” represents the hours worked without an injury that results in an employee’s missing a day of scheduled work, thereby constituting a days-away case.
The safe-work-days string began under Washington Savannah River Company, continuing through Savannah River Remediation and now SRMC.
During the 24-year period, the liquid waste construction crew has safely built new facilities, closed tanks in the SRS tanks farms, and assembled mega-volume Saltstone Disposal Units, which hold 33 million gallons of decontaminated salt solution mixed with dry materials to form a concrete-like grout.
SRMC Projects and Construction Director Brandon Witt leads the liquid waste construction team at SRS and stresses safety to all personnel.
“No days-away injuries in 35 million hours proves how the combination of a shared value in safety at all levels of the organization, employee involvement, and ownership in the safety program, and a true dedication to taking care of one another can achieve greatness,” Witt said. “Our philosophy has always been to send workers home at the end of their shift in the same condition as when they arrived for work.”
The last incident that resulted in a days-away case for a liquid waste construction employee occurred in June 1998. In comparison, based on current U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the average U.S. construction company working 35 million hours would have incurred 140 injuries requiring the injured employees to miss days of work.
“Being safe means that each worker has the ability to return for their next shift and to help complete the liquid waste mission,” said Jim Folk, DOE-Savannah River assistant manager for waste disposition. “Each worker contributes to our goal of safely removing waste from tanks and processing it for its final disposition. Regardless of the job being performed, doing it safely is imperative.”