May 2013

An Investment in Training

Earlier this year I attended a meeting at the HAMMER training facility in Richland, Wash., to observe a trainer enhancement class conducted by CPWR and review updates to the ironworker training program with its staff and instructors.

HAMMER (HAzardous Materials Management and Emergency Response) began in 1986 as a community-based initiative to improve training for hazardous materials workers, emergency responders and fire fighters. Tri-City Development Council Executive Vice President Sam Volpentest adopted their dream of a world-class training facility and made it happen by convincing Congress and the Department of Energy that hands-on training was needed to protect the safety and lives of workers and emergency responders.

Upon completion of construction in September 1997, HAMMER was officially dedicated as the Volpentest HAMMER Training and Education Center in honor of Sam’s tenacity, skills and selfless commitment.

HAMMER is the cornerstone for the safety and health of Hanford’s workers. Involving students in dynamic training simulations and mock-ups brings workers face to face with potential job hazards. Merging computer and web-based scenarios with hands-on training gives workers a chance to make life-critical decisions, experience consequences, and learn from mistakes in a safe environment before facing possible hazards in the workplace. This blended learning approach increases productivity and ensures that critical information is retained through hard hitting, hands-on activities; custom simulations, drills and mock-ups; interactive computer and web-based scenarios; and professional classroom instruction.

Involving workers is critical to safety and is showcased in the Worker-Training-Worker program. Worker trainers not only deliver training, they return to the workplace as credible subject-matter experts who provide ongoing peer mentoring.

Recognized for its dedication to worker safety, HAMMER is the only training facility in the nation to have earned a Star of Excellence in the Voluntary Protection Program. This designation acknowledges organizations that pass a rigorous performance review and maintain low injury rates.

Training is an investment. Returning people home safely each day is a compelling return on this investment.
Typical Hanford training at HAMMER includes radiation protection; respiratory protection; lockout/tagout; hazardous waste; hoisting and rigging; fall protection; beryllium; asbestos; deactivation and decommissioning mock-ups; emergency preparedness; and transportation.

Currently there are three Iron Worker trainers; Devon Daniel, Bryce Young and Steve Johnson, members of Local 14 (Spokane, Wash.), who conduct the HAZWOPER Training at the HAMMER Training Facility. In 2012, the Iron Workers conducted 23 courses providing training for the more than 500 workers. During the month of February, the three IW trainers, along with the training development staff at the HAMMER Training Facility, will be developing a new Iron Worker 8-Hour HAZWOPER Refresher Curriculum. This update will keep the ironworkers on this project up to date on any new hazard avoidance techniques and P.P.E. requirements.