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Safety culture model at work

ORAU safety culture evaluation and improvement methods arise from proven methods inside company walls

As a DOE Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) site for more than a decade and a Legacy of Stars site since 2008, ORAU continually finds ways to push its team to improve by finding ways to better engage and remind its employees of safe practices.

For example, ORAU senior management initiated a safety culture survey of its workforce—not because it was required by the VPP Program—but because of the insight that leadership could gain from employee feedback. The web-based safety culture survey was administered to the more than 1,100 ORAU employees. Results identified strengths and weaknesses and provided ORAU with the information needed to focus energy on areas that could be improved. This demonstrated that ORAU is a learning organization seeking continuous improvement; attributes that are viewed favorably when applicants seek DOE-VPP certification or recertification.

ORAU VPP TV splash screen

During the most recent Voluntary Protection Program certification review, ORAU developed an internal training program for employees titled VPP TV, that allowed staff members to review important information about ORAU’s safety program through a series of videos presented like a lineup of network television shows in a variety of formats.

In the video below, the VPP TV News Break team brings viewers up to date with the latest news on the ORAU safety program.

As another example, in 2016, ORAU launched a new program to engage its employees with a new level of involvement in and awareness of the ORAU Safety Program. Called the VPPh.D program, it is designed to challenge employees to learn more about safety-related practices, terminology and gain in their knowledge of both VPP and the Environmental Management System of ISO 14001.

Through a combination of online training modules and hands-on activities, employees strengthen their commitment to a safety lifestyle at home and at work. As they build their knowledge, they move through three achievement levels: a Bachelor of Science in Safety Studies, Master of Safety and a VPPh.D, which represents a doctorate in ORAU’s safety program. Employees who achieve the highest level of training receive recognition and a cash award.

The VPPh.D program also provides a means for shorter-tenured employees to get up to speed with the safety program at ORAU and to provide an incentive for these employees to go deeper in their understanding of the ORAU safety culture. For all employees, both newer hires and veteran staff, the program also served as a means to gain a balanced perspective of the full scope of the occupational safety and health and environmental issues.

ORAU Center for Safety Studies

Jeff Miller, PhD, CIH, CSP
(865) 576-7912

By the numbers

ORAU/ORISE has the numbers to back up the effectiveness of its safety programs. The two primary statistics that industries use to measure safety are Total Recordable Case (TRC) Rate and the Days Away, Restricted or Transferred (DART) Case Rate. TRC is equal to the total number of recordable cases (OSHA-defined injuries and illnesses that occur during work hours) divided by the total number of hours worked by all employees and then multiplied by 200,000. At ORAU, the three-year TRC rate of 0.61 is well below the general industry average of 4.6*.

DART is determined using the same formula as TRC except that the numerator is the total number of cases with work days missed, worked with restrictions, or where transfers were necessary to continue work as a result of an on-the-job injury/illness. During the past three years, ORAU has achieved a DART score of 0.05 which compares extremely well to the industry average of 1.3*.


*Comparable rates for general industry as published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor (2006 NAICS code 5419)