Employees simulate pulling soil samples while wearing supplied air during a respiratory protection training (Photo: DOE)A new respiratory protection course has been launched at the Hanford Site’s Volpentest Hazardous Materials Management and Emergency Response (HAMMER) Federal Training Centre, US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced.

It features an “escape room” with an engaging twist: employees wear supplied air equipment while they answer questions, discover clues and solve puzzles in a simulated work environment.

They’re under pressure to “escape” or complete the activity safely in a limited amount of time before their air bottles empty. The simulation helps the employees learn the limitations, advantages and disadvantages of respiratory protection equipment. HAMMER programmes, managed by EM Richland Operations Office (RL) contractor Hanford Mission Integration Solutions, train Hanford workers in a range of skills through hands-on activities and real-life scenarios. 

The centre’s worker-trainers help develop and deliver many of the courses. Their skills and first-hand experience make them knowledgeable and relatable to employees taking the courses, EOD noted. “HAMMER worker-trainers are recognised as safety advocates by their peers, and they successfully bridge the gap between the field and classroom while providing advanced safety training,” said Angela Stoddard, RL programme manager. “Their efforts to innovate educational methods also ensure a strong, consistent and continuously improving safety culture across the Hanford Site.”

Another creative learning activity tests the ability to read and understand a respiratory protection form while under pressure from responding to simulated alarms. Employees also demonstrate equipment knowledge in responding to a simulated loss of air while wearing a supplied air respirator. “HAMMER staff and worker-trainers frequently implement course improvements to meet the Hanford Site’s evolving training needs,” said Paul Vandervert, director of HAMMER. “Employee feedback on updates to the respiratory programme course has been very positive.”

Employees simulate pulling soil samples while wearing supplied air during a respiratory protection training at the Volpentest HAMMER Federal Training Center at the Hanford Site (Photo: DOE)