May 4 2012
Chemical agent plant construction paused to improve safety
After some cuts, bruises and two near-misses
Special to the Register
RICHMOND -Following recent worker-safety related incidents, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass paused construction work Thursday at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant being built at the Blue Grass Army Depot
The pause was an initial step to improve worker safety, review safety procedures and speak to workers about construction hazards, according to project representatives
Recent incidents involved four injuries resulting in cuts and bruises that were reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Two "near-misses" that could have resulted in injuries also were recorded, according to a news release from the project's outreach office.
"Worker, public and environmental safety is of the highest importance, even if it means temporarily stopping construction to refocus everyone on the message - and our goal of zero accidents," said Tom McKinney, project manager for Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass
"We take the safety of our workforce seriously and in the coming days and weeks, we will continue to review our safety procedures for improvement, closely monitor construction activities and increase safety awareness for our workers and supervisors."
Nearly 400 manual construction workers paused work Thursday, and were released following an all-workforce meeting. The workers will return to work Monday.
During this safety pause, construction non-manual supervisors and employees remained at the construction site to review safety procedures and practices, and prepare for a safety-focused, all-workers meeting on Monday.
Following Monday's meeting, construction workers will resume work in a phased approach. Initial activities will include evaluating work areas to organize excess materials, tools and equipment that could pose potential safety hazards. Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass will also re-emphasize with workers and supervisors the importance of safe work behaviors and ways to identify and fix potential construction safety hazards before work activities begin and at the end of each work day.
"Pausing work is another demonstration of our commitment to every worker and a positive safety culture," said Jeff Brubaker, the government's sit project manager. "Our goal is to safely build a plant that will protect the future workforce and surrounding community and worker safety is a vital component to our success."
The plant is being built to safely and efficiently destroy a stockpile of chemical weapons currently stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot. The plant will destroy 523 tons of munitions containing blister and nerve agents. Construction work is progressing on a variety of facilities to support chemical demilitarization operations.
For more information on the project, visit the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives website at www.pmacwa.army.mil