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‘School of Hazards’ Gives Unique Education at Savannah River Site

AIKEN, S.C. (March 25, 2024) – The liquid waste contractor at the Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management’s Savannah River Site (SRS) is educating workers on everyday workplace hazards with a hands-on, peer-led mobile field course.


Cutline: Joshua Dickinson, left, Savannah River Mission Completion electrician and School of Hazards volunteer, leads a group of craft employees through the course.

The new course, “School of Hazards,” is encouraging safe practices by immersing construction craft employees in a mock-up of hazardous scenarios. The outdoor obstacle course comprises simulated hazards workers might encounter in their jobs, including barricades, tripping hazards, damaged equipment and more.


Projects within the SRS Liquid Waste Program, managed by EM liquid waste contractor Savannah River Mission Completion (SRMC), consist of ongoing construction, high-hazard and radioactive operations and maintenance tasks, and treating and immobilizing radioactive liquid waste stored in the SRS Tank Farms. SRMC employs over 800 construction craft employees to support its mission. The School of Hazards has traveled to four areas in SRS that host the liquid waste facilities.


The School of Hazards was created and is facilitated by one of SRMC’s employee-led safety teams, known as Local Safety Improvement Teams at SRS. The teams are an organized group dedicated to an area or facility, with the purposes of facilitating the behavior-based observation program, developing behavior-focused initiatives, serving as a management-worker communication bridge and fostering worker involvement to achieve the goal of zero injuries.


According to Jim Folk, DOE-Savannah River assistant manager for waste disposition, ensuring safety in all operations is a priority for EM.


“Safe construction and operations are necessary to process radioactive liquid waste for final disposition,” said Folk. “EM supports every effort to keep workers safe.”


Employees are guided through the course by a representative from the construction craft’s Local Safety Improvement Team, called “SAFE-T,” who interacts with participants by discussing the hazards and how to handle them.


The purpose of this initiative is to help heighten the awareness of workers in the field, according to Brandon Johnson, SAFE-T chair and SRMC electrician.


“This School of Hazards course helps our construction team to identify hazards and understand the process of mitigating any hazard they may face,” Johnson said. “Our goal is for every worker to go home in the same state they came to work.”


According to Dave Olson, SRMC president and program manager, the initiative offers an additional avenue for employees to be immersed in SRMC’s safety culture.


“This safety initiative is an innovative way to interact with employees, both new and experienced,” Olson said. “SRMC is committed to doing the job safely, and we are proud to support initiatives that can better equip employees.”


Hear from the SAFE-T chair and co-chair in this video.


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