Safety Star of the 1st Quarter 2024

Tami L. Keas

Central Plateau Cleanup Company
Safety Administrator
Richland, WA / Hanford Site

How did you get involved in safety?

I began in a temporary role working as a data entry clerk for the Occupational Safety and Industrial Hygiene (OS&IH) department in 2010. One of my roles early on was serving as a recorder for the Chronic Beryllium Disease Prevention Program meetings. Through that experience I ended up becoming the database administrator for our industrial hygiene database that served to gather and process workplace area and personal sampling data.

As my understanding of workplace hazards grew it strengthened my desire to be more involved in our safety programs. I volunteered to serve as the recorder for our Employee Zero Accident Council, provided administrative support for a variety of VPP activities and eventually had the opportunity to work with safety professionals in developing safety communications that went out to our entire company.

What is your most recent safety related work accomplishment or something you’re proud of?

Following collaboration with the OS&IH Manager and Safety Professionals on our team, I was given the opportunity to research and develop monthly Hazard Awareness Training Modules in an effort to increase employee understanding of how to anticipate, recognize and control safety hazards in the workplace. This information is flowed down at our monthly President’s Zero Accident Council meetings and later to all managers for review and discussion with their work teams. Through researching each topic, I have expanded my safety knowledge and strengthened my written communication skills.

What has been your favorite aspect of the VPPPA/how has your company benefitted from VPPPA membership?

I think my favorite aspect of working for a company that is a VPP Star Site and a member of the VPPPA is the opportunity to share lessons learned and attend meaningful workshops at the Region X and National Conferences. Incorporating VPP into our workplace has continued to keep our injury rates far below industry standards and fosters continual improvement in our work control processes through employee involvement at all levels.

What is one of the biggest challenges you and/or your company currently face when it comes to safety at the workplace?

Over the last few years our company faced challenges following contract transition accompanied with higher-than-usual attrition rates, amplified by a boom of retirements. This resulted in losing some of our more experienced workforce and the addition of a large number of new workers, many with little or no knowledge of nuclear high-hazard work.

Overall, there has just been an increase in confusion with certain work control processes and a feeling that safety information and expectations are not always clearly communicated. However, we have made great strides to strengthen operational fundamentals through numerous safety initiatives and are beginning to see strengthening in our safety culture.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in safety?

I would definitely recommend that the person seeks employment with a company that is a VPP member. VPP companies have a stronger safety culture, have a stronger emphasis on employee involvement and they maintain injury rates below those of their industry counterparts.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I’ve always been an artist in a variety of mediums, from sketching, painting and now mainly photography. I love traveling and exploring the mountains of the pacific northwest, scouting for wildlife, taking scenic photos and my favorite hobby – foraging for wild Morel mushrooms and fresh mountain huckleberries with my sweetie and our beautiful German Shepard Mika!