The BCSP Safety Trained Supervisor (STS) and Safety Trained Supervisor Construction (STSC) Sponsorship Program was created as a way for companies to promote and maintain professional certification throughout all levels of their organization—as BCSP believes every organizational member has safety responsibility.
Since its inception, the Sponsorship Program has been a resounding success. There are currently 200 companies sponsoring nearly 6,800 employees in their pursuit and maintenance of the STS and/or STSC certifications!
In 2020, the top performer of the Sponsorship Program was Amentum, with 287 applications submitted and 97 new STS and STSC certificants! We spoke with Michelle Keever, CSP, SMS, STSC, CIT a Senior Safety and Health Program Specialist at UCOR, an Amentum-led partnership with Jacobs, about the importance of professional safety certification and UCOR’s dedication to safety.
Formed in 2011, UCOR is the Department of Energy (DOE) Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management’s leading cleanup partner, specializing in the safe decommissioning and demolition of former nuclear facilities. UCOR is cleaning up the DOE Oak Ridge Reservation in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where a workforce of more than 1,900 has earned a reputation for safe performance, innovative problem solving, and an unwavering focus on excellence.
“UCOR takes its mission seriously to protect the people, the community, and the environment while eliminating hazards and reducing risks,” said Keever.
In 2020, the historic milestone of completing a first-ever cleanup of a uranium enrichment plant was realized when the last of the 500 facilities that produced enriched uranium for defense and commercial purposes was demolished at the Oak Ridge site. The land is being reused as a multi-use industrial park, national park, and conservation area.
“The diversity of biological, chemical, physical, and radioactive hazards that can be encountered during the course of our work creates unique challenges,” said Keever. “High hazard work environments demand a heightened degree of planning, stringent hazard controls, and a well-trained, empowered, and highly skilled workforce.”
Among her many duties, Keever manages the UCOR DOE Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), which assists with fostering a strong safety culture and a safety-conscious work environment through leadership, employee/worker engagement, and organizational learning. She also manages and promotes safety-related professional certifications for the UCOR workforce.
“This effort includes delivering training, coaching, monitoring preparation progress, and providing administrative support to those pursuing and maintaining professional certifications,” said Keever.
Approximately 10 percent of the UCOR workforce hold the STS or STSC credentials, with 80 employees holding additional BCSP credentials.
“The [STS and STSC] Sponsorship Program and positive recognition provided to those who obtain professional certifications helps create a sense of excitement,” said Keever. “You know that something special is happening when new members of the UCOR workforce become eager to purse the STS and STSC certifications after conferring with coworker certificants.”
Within UCOR, supervisors and non-supervisory safety leaders are recognized to have a positive impact on the organization’s safety culture. Preparing for the STS and STSC certifications teaches new and hones existing hazard recognition and mitigation skills. “Those efforts also strengthen soft skills such as communications that are required to maintain resilient teams,” commented Keever.
UCOR’s cleanup of the Oak Ridge site is four years ahead of schedule and $80 million under budget. UCOR’s five-year average Days Away, Restricted or Transferred (DART) rate of 0.17 is more than 75% lower than the industry average. “The STS and STSC Sponsorship Program, which is an established part of our ISMS, can in part be attributed to our performance,” said Keever.
At BCSP, we are tremendously grateful for all the organizations that participate in the STS and STSC Sponsorship Program. We are truly inspired when a company emphasizes to its workforce the importance of safety through continuing education and professional certification. Our mission is, and always has been, to enhance careers, advance the profession, and most importantly, protect people.