RICHLAND, WA - For the third consecutive time, Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP), or Vit Plant, has earned the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) highest certification for excellence in occupational and health protection.
The Vit Plant was first awarded Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star status in 2010, and was recertified in 2014 and again this year. Contractors whose programs meet requirements for outstanding safety and health programs receive this recognition.
"Our workforce takes great pride in this award," said Valerie McCain, principal vice president and WTP project director for Bechtel National, Inc., WTP Project contractor. "VPP Star status is another validation that our project and our subcontractor, Waste Treatment Completion Company, demonstrate that safety is a core value to the project’s culture. A positive safety culture is important as we move forward to finish Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste construction and startup testing, and move into the commissioning phase."
Earlier this year, a VPP team from DOE headquarters conducted a Vit Plant site review to gauge employee and management involvement in safety programs. The team noted several positive attributes of the jobsite’s culture and worker-safety programs, including management observations, culture and safety committees, and stop-work authority. The review team also noted that management expectations are communicated effectively and there is a trusting and respectful environment among workers and management.
"Building and sustaining a positive safety culture is a continuous journey," said Tom Fletcher, the DOE Office of River Protection’s WTP federal project director. "It’s encouraging to see the level of involvement employees have in WTP worker-owned safety programs, and VPP Star status is another example of their engagement in workplace safety."
DOE’s VPP was established in 1994 and mirrors the Occupational Health and Safety Administration VPP. DOE VPP participation is open to contractors employed at DOE facilities. The program includes expanded criteria because of the unique hazards and complexity of work at these facilities.