Specialists Protect Plant Workforce from Physical Hazards



A safety engineer points out potential workplace hazards around a cryogenic nitrogen tank to a team of medical and industrial hygiene personnel at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. Specialists assess health hazards in workplaces around the site and provide information on restrictions or protective gear to keep workers safe.



Site specialists and medical personnel discuss potential hazards in a work area at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant.

Industrial hygiene and safety specialists work daily to mitigate health hazards that may exist around the pilot plant.

“These groups look at potential hazards to the physical body,” said David Moragne, safety specialist, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. “Experts go to work areas and identify if there is excess acoustic energy, if the atmosphere is oxygen-deficient or if there are confined-space hazards, among other things. They then determine what individual restriction or additional safety protection is necessary for those environments.”

Those restrictions could include vibration barriers, cooling structures or devices, or a change to an operating procedure, Moragne said. Safety protection could include requirements to wear leather gloves, face shields or ear plugs.

As new work areas are designated or operating procedures developed, specialists evaluate those environments for hazards. Then, they develop a job safety analysis specifying the restrictions or protective gear required before work can be performed there, said Charlie Satterwhite, industrial hygiene manager, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass.

“For a maintenance-type job, we assess each situation and determine the hazards. It is often a one-time job, such as removing and replacing a piece of siding,” Satterwhite said. “For more involved procedures, such as start-up and operation of processing equipment, a team will go through and assess the operating procedure step-by-step.

“Any occupational environment that presents health hazards, whether to hearing, sight, skin, lungs or more, must have proper controls for the people who work in it. Our priority is to have our workers leave the plant every day in the condition in which they arrived.”

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