As a training specialist, part of Mecham’s job involves training Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant workers on man lifts, in tight spaces such as vessels and tanks and to maneuver construction and maintenance equipment. Thanks to him and the other professionals in the Training Department, hundreds of workers are well educated in plans and procedures, as well as rules and regulations leading to the safe operation of this complex project.
“We provide knowledge to people who don’t have that knowledge. It’s as simple as that,” said Mecham. “I get to meet new people and teach them new things. I thoroughly enjoy the interaction.”
Made up of approximately 20 people with backgrounds in many different disciplines, the Training Department has a variety of capabilities. Their specialties range from coursework development to in-the-field equipment instruction and video production. The application of this foundation all begins with the initial training new employees receive before they start their jobs.
“As a new hire, the new employee training was the stepping stone to ensuring my successful start on the project,” said Kellie Isola, communications intern. “Without this information about the project, its complexity and all of its moving parts in the training, I would have felt a lot less confident about moving forward to begin my work.”
As the project transitions from construction to systemization, so too, does project training.
“We’ve been planning for this shift for a long time,” Mecham said. “We started developing systems training coursework years ago, knowing it was coming. Some is already in action and some is waiting until it is needed.”
As the transition continues, the project workforce is also transitioning. As skilled craft workers finish their projects, more technicians, control room operators and other professionals are coming on board. Equipment is changing from backhoes, welders and scaffolding to computers and test meters. This necessitates a shift in instruction as well, from hands-on and face-to-face to the addition of more computer-based training. The Training Department is adapting from course development to instruction to accommodate these changes.
“As our development work ends, we are moving to focus on training people in the coursework we have developed,” said Mecham. “What I enjoy is the fact that all of our efforts will end with our making the world a safer place with the destruction of the chemical weapons.”