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Safety at ORAU


VIPPY—the ORAU safety mascot named in honor of the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP)—has become a familiar face as he keeps the ORAU safety program highly visible and on message.

Working with ORAU means you have a partner whose first commitment is to your safety, whether you are an employee, a business partner, a local subcontractor or research participant. We operate under the principles and functions of the Integrated Safety Management (ISM) system that calls for analyzing each component of our work activities and placing accountability for safety at every level from front line office workers and maintenance crew all the way to the CEO’s office.

Running a safe operation is not just something that ORAU management strives to do. It’s a foundational part of our culture at ORAU and extends well beyond just the company work hours. All ORAU employees receive training and encouragement on how to make safety an essential part of their life, not just their work space.

Every employee has the responsibility to put safety first in each part of his or her job. That includes a right for each employee to stop work if they encounter an unsafe situation.

While safety has been a part of the fabric of ORAU for many years, the safety culture here took a giant leap forward in 2003 when the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) named the company a Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star site for its management of the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE).

At the time of the announcement, ORAU/ORISE was the 21st DOE site nationwide and the first DOE site in the State of Tennessee to receive such distinction. Over the years, we have constantly evolved our safety program with various efforts including:

  • ongoing mentoring activities to assist other contractors in achieving VPP certification;
  • a redesigned safety-focused intranet site called Safety 1st;
  • improved ISM training using web-based training modules;
  • regularly coordinated health and safety fairs;
  • the creation of a safety mascot, VIPPY, who helps reinforce safety messages year round; and
  • the creation of the ORAU Center for Safety Studies, which engages employees with more ways to be involved in the ORAU Safety Program.

An Award-Winning Safety Record

In recognition of its outstanding health and safety programs, ORAU/ORISE has received DOE’s Star of Excellence Award each year since 2005. Additionally, in receiving the Star of Excellence Award for three consecutive years, ORISE became one of nine DOE sites across the nation to be named a Legacy of Stars site. That tradition of safety excellence has continued as DOE awarded ORAU/ORISE its third consecutive Legacy of Stars Award in 2014.

ORAU/ORISE has the numbers to back up the effectiveness of our safety programs. The two primary statistics that industries use to measure safety are Total Recordable Case (TRC) Rate and the Days Away, Restricted or Transferred (DART) Case Rate.

TRC is equal to the total number of recordable cases (OSHA-defined injuries and illnesses that occur during work hours) divided by the total number of hours worked by all employees and then multiplied by 200,000. At ORAU, our three-year TRC rate of 0.34 is well below the general industry average of 5.1*.

DART is determined using the same formula as TRC except that the numerator is the total number of cases with work days missed, worked with restrictions, or where transfers were necessary to continue work as a result of an on-the-job injury/illness. During the past three years, ORAU has achieved a DART score of 0.11 which compares extremely well to the industry average of 1.3*.

Learn More

For more information about ORAU’s safety culture and safety program, please contact , Environment, Safety and Health, at 865.576.3336.

*Comparable rates for general industry as published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor (2006 NAICS code 5419)

Legacy of Stars

DOE 2014 Legacy of Stars Site Award

The DOE Legacy of Stars Site Award (shown above) recognizes ORAU for maintaining its Star level status through the continued pursuit of safety and health excellence, the implementation of outstanding outreach and mentoring efforts, and by maintaining a recordable injury rate that is 75 percent better than the average of comparable U.S. businesses. In 2014, ORAU earned its third consecutive Legacy of Stars Award.