The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) has been involved with work at Department of Energy (DOE) sites since the Manhattan Project and is one of the main crafts involved in environmental clean-up work. Therefore, the IUOE with its intensive hands-on work force is often impacted by risk decisions such as clean-up versus leave in place. This has resulted in a vested interest in understanding risk to the workers and their families, or the view from the trenches. A cooperative agreement with the Department of Energy in 1995 has allowed the IUOE to work with the DOE to conduct safety and health assessments of new environmental technologies and has produced several products that are providing far-reaching impact for protecting workers during current clean-up activities and for the future, after workers retire and enjoy the long-term stewardship of their lives.
The findings of these assessments may differ from the view from the mountain, which according to research by the Office of Science and Technology conducted in 1999 comparing new technologies with the baseline technologies found that 71 percent of the deployments had a moderate to high potential of reducing occupational exposures. (1)