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ORAU provides support to a strong nuclear safety culture at Y-12

Y-12 workers working on equipment

Photo courtesy of Y-12

As a nuclear manufacturing plant, the Y-12 National Security Complex must adhere to rigorous nuclear safety standards to ensure the health and safety of the public and more than 5,000 members of its workforce. To help meet this challenge, ORAU worked side-by-side with Y-12 staff, beginning in 2013 and throughout 2014, to develop and implement a nuclear safety culture improvement and sustainment program. At the first DOE Safety Culture Best Practices Workshop in October 2014, the program was featured as one of the most advanced in the DOE enterprise.

The Y-12/ORAU team began with a comprehensive safety culture evaluation that included survey responses from more than 60 percent of employees to identify strengths and weaknesses and to help focus resources on areas that would provide the greatest return on investment. The ensuing action plan, which included an evolving planning tool to identify the resources, activities, output, benefit and impact of Y-12’s safety culture, provided a clear and logical road map for improvement that continues to be updated today. A multidisciplinary working group of hourly employees and managers was created, and ORAU helped develop safety culture communication plans, coached individual managers, mediated organizational conflicts, developed training curriculum and facilitated safetyfocused activities with dozens of employee teams. In 2015, ORAU will resurvey the Y-12 workforce to identify progress on the plan and additional actions that may be needed.

This program at Y-12 is now being translated to other sites, including the Pantex Plant, managed by Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC (CNS), the same company that manages Y-12 for DOE. When evaluating ORAU’s performance at Y-12, CNS Program Manager Paul Wasilko noted, “I would rate the support provided by ORAU as A+. All of the work scope was not only completed ahead of schedule but under the allocated budget. As a result, we plan to continue our relationship with ORAU as we prepare for a joint NNSA/ CNS assessment in early 2015.”