Abstract

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) manages the largest environmental remediation program in the world, with responsibility for an estimated 5.5 trillion liters of contaminated ground water and 40 million cubic meters of contaminated soil and debris. (1) Just the contaminated soils on DOE weapons facilities could cover the entire island of Manhattan more than five feet deep. (2) Attempting to accomplish this mission with the technologies currently available would prove far too expensive. Consequently, the DOE has mounted a major program to develop innovative technology to expedite the cleanup. The Office of Environmental Management (EM) has made a commitment, however, to maintain a program that is second to none in the dedication and skill with which it promotes occupational safety and health during all phases of development and deployment of these new environmental remediation technologies. Since 1995, the EM Office of Science and Technology (OST) has conducted a program with the International Union of Operating Engineers (TUOE) to include occupational safety and health (OSH) considerations in the EM technology development program. Building on this experience, EM is implementing an improved OSH program built around Integrated Safety Management (ISM) principles. This paper reviews EM’s policy on the integration of OSH into the technology development program.

The EM ISM approach has begun yielding results. EM’s average annual rate of occupational illnesses and injuries just reached an all-time low rate of 1.6 per 100 employees, which is below the DOE average of 2.2 and well below the private sector average of 6.7. Even greater safety can be achieved by applying the best science and technology available, which was demonstrated in a recent study that found 71 percent of the technologies deployed by the Office of Science and Technology in 1999 had a moderate-to-high potential for reducing occupational safety and health exposures. (1)

The key policy initiatives of OST that will be reviewed in this paper include:

• The development of safety and health guidelines for the technology developer community;

• The integration of safety and health considerations into a stage-gate procedure that allows formal review of the safety at specific stages in their development of the technologies;

• The creation of guidance for integrating safety and health into the ongoing, formal peer review process that the American Society of Mechanical Engineers conducts for OST;

• Development of a Technology Safety Data Sheet (TSDS) for every technology at Mid-stage Review; and

• Identification and inclusion of safety and health compliance costs in technology cost-performance data.

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