National Institute for

Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), at the request of the Department of Energy Office of River Protection (DOE-ORP) and WRPS, visited the Hanford Site in July 2016 to conduct a review of tank farms worker safety and health programs.

NIOSH is a branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During their visit, NIOSH investigators observed work practices in different areas, reviewed programs, and spoke to management, union leadership, workers, and representatives from Hanford’s onsite medical services organization.

The NIOSH team reviewed documentation and reports from previous evaluations of worker health and safety at the tank farms. Additionally, they obtained information regarding the health and safety programs of both WRPS and DOE.

parallax background

Full report

Recommendations from the report covered four areas: exposure assessment, exposure control, safety and health program management, and medical.

The report was completed in December 2016 and is available here:
NIOSH Review of Hanford Tank Farm Worker Safety and Health Programs.


Congressional support

In a letter sent Dec. 5, 2016, to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both D-Wash., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore, requested that DOE “develop an implementation plan which includes a clear schedule and the funding necessary to carry them out successfully.”

On-site outbrief

A NIOSH outbrief was conducted at the Hanford Site with members of the DOE-ORP and WRPS leadership team on Jan. 26, 2017. The briefing package shared at that meeting is available here. Key takeaways include:

  • Increase focus on engineering controls
  • Continue to build trust
  • Develop an evidence-based rationale for the tank farm perimeter
  • Acknowledge health concerns are legitimate
  • Increase management-worker interaction
  • Reduce reliance on respiratory protection
  • Improve communication on return-to-work policy