Source: EM Update | Vol. 13, Issue 31 | August 10, 2021

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Oak Ridge cleanup contractor UCOR’s radiological control technician training program includes hazardous waste operations emergency response and asbestos training to ensure graduates are prepared for the variety of tasks required for radiological cleanup.

An association recently recognized several EM contractors across the DOE complex with a variety of awards for safety, health, innovation, and outreach. The Voluntary Protection Programs Participants’ Association (VPPPA), which helps worksites advance safety and health goals, honored contractors at the  Oak Ridge, Hanford, and Savannah River sites.

The awards highlight a range of accomplishments by the contractors, including developing specialized personal protective equipment, ensuring employees receive critical training while working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, and taking creative approaches to professional development programs.

The VPPPA announced the 2021 awards on its website and will present them at an annual symposium later this summer.

Working through cooperative efforts among labor, management, and government at DOE contractor sites, DOE’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) promotes improved safety and health performance through public recognition of outstanding programs.

The VPPPA awarded Oak Ridge cleanup contractor UCOR a VPP Innovation Award for its safety training and professional development efforts.

The association recognized the contractor for its creative approach to training, qualification, and professional development programs associated with radiological control, industrial hygiene, and construction and heavy equipment.

“UCOR is constantly looking for ways to enhance safety performance and stands as an example of what a committed and safety-conscious workforce can do,” said Clint Wolfley, UCOR safety systems and services manager. “We will continue to explore and implement training and safety program innovations to ensure our workforce goes home at the end of each workday in the same safe condition they arrived.”

UCOR established an in-house training program for radiological control technicians, which includes a 16-week onboarding period with classroom and on-the-job training. Students work with cutting-edge technologies and instruments that allow them to learn skills in a realistic, hazard-free practical lab environment. They also complete other training programs to prepare for a variety of tasks required for radiological cleanup.

The end result has given UCOR 160 radiological control technicians who have the technical depth of knowledge to rotate between diverse cleanup projects at the Y-12 National Security ComplexOak Ridge National Laboratory, and East Tennessee Technology Park.

UCOR’s industrial hygiene technician training program includes fundamentals, practical applications, and on-the-job learning experiences. Participants also receive career-progression plans. Best practices from UCOR’s construction and heavy equipment program are shared with DOE, other government agencies, and the private sector.

The contractor’s virtual reality modules aid in the delivery of confined space, heavy equipment operations, and fall protection training. Its heavy equipment spotter training will soon include a first-of-its-kind virtual reality training experience UCOR helped develop.