Maintaining a safety-trained and qualified workforce is essential to success in today's business environment. Creating and sustaining a strong safety culture is the foundation for worker safety, investment worthiness, and company profitability. This paper discusses ways in which URS | CH2M Oak Ridge LLC (UCOR), the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) lead cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, overcame challenges in a high-hazard work environment to meet and exceed client expectations while accomplishing a historical feat—the first ever complete demolition of a gaseous diffusion complex. UCOR's safety culture encompasses a highly engaged workforce that is committed to:

  • The implementation of the Core Functions and Guiding Principles of a well-established Integrated Safety Management System (ISMS)

  • Continuous improvements associated with Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) tenets

  • A solid safety culture built on mutual respect among the client, contractor, employees and the community

UCOR's workforce was awarded DOE's VPP Star status, a designation given to only the safest organizations in the DOE complex. The company has an impressive safety record of more than 8.5 million hours extending over the past three years without a lost workday away case. UCOR received the 2016 Medgate Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Impact Award and has been recognized as a Tennessee Healthier Work Place.

At the heart of UCOR's safety culture are three focus areas:

  • Leadership

  • Worker/employee engagement

  • Organizational learning


UCOR combines the talents of two global program management companies–AECOM and CH2M–and small business partner Restoration Services, Inc. (RSI). UCOR manages the cleanup of the 2,200-acre East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) for its DOE client and partner in Oak Ridge.

The site was contaminated with radioactive, hazardous and industrial wastes generated by more than 40 years of national defense and energy missions.

The ETTP, once called the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, was built as part of the secret Manhattan Project in the 1940s to enrich uranium for the atomic bombs that would end World War II. The site later produced enriched uranium for commercial and defense purposes. Operations ceased in 1985, and the site was permanently shut down in 1987. DOE then began cleanup operations, which include demolition of many of the site's buildings.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.