Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory


NIF-Specific Radiological Training Boosts Efficiency

NIF’s radiological workers are benefiting from a novel, more efficient approach to the biennial hands-on training they need to satisfy NIF, LLNL, and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) requirements.

A NIF-specific rad worker training course was launched in June after two years of dogged planning and groundwork spearheaded by NIF Deputy Radiation Safety Officer Shannon Sauers. The course covers training that all Lab rad workers must take but adds procedures, equipment, and other requirements unique to NIF.

Radiological Workers Take Training ClassNIF radiological workers (from left) Saad Kenany, Tyler Neabeack, Yassin Mohamed, and Dave Trummer answer questions during the first session of a new NIF-specific rad workers training class. Credit: Robert Doyon

“This is a new concept for the Lab as a whole, allowing a project or a facility to deliver lab-required training,” Sauers said. “We were basically having to train twice on this material, so this course is a way where we can give it once and fulfill those requirements.”

Sauers credited Quang Le, radiation protection functional area manager, and Lorenzo Wells, Environment, Safety and Health (ES&H) safety education and training section manager, with helping launch the course.

“They were open to the idea that we could re-envision the way training is delivered,” Sauers said.

Le said it’s the first time he’s known of a program or facility allowed to deliver institutionally required rad training. The forward-thinking spirit that spurred the new course is a natural fit for the innovative nature of NIF; the novel approach might be applied to other types of Lab-mandated training in the future, Le said.

“Many facilities here have their own mission and do certain things that are not being done elsewhere on site,” he said. “This could set a precedent for other areas. I don’t see why that couldn’t happen, if we do it right.”

All LLNL rad workers must complete training every two years to maintain their job qualifications under Lab and DOE standards.

Sauers heard from many of the 400 NIF rad workers, however, who noted ways the Lab-wide class did not cover NIF-specific controls they had to train on separately.

For example, while the Lab-wide course covered integration work sheets, NIF training included work permits and radiological work permits. And while the course covered door warning signs, NIF workers must also review the Target Bay safety interlock panel status to determine entry requirements.

NIF also gives hands-on training with the Ludlum 2360 contamination survey meter, which is not required for the Lab-wide rad course.

Shannon Sauers Receives CongratulationsNIF Deputy Radiation Safety Officer Shannon Sauers (left) is congratulated by NIF Operations Manager Bruno Van Wonterghem for his work on the NIF-specific rad workers training course. Ken Kasper, NIF Radiological Operations manager, and Lydia Camara, NIF & PS deputy principal associate director for Operations, join in the salute. Credit: Jason Laurea

“There was a lot of feedback that would say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had our own class so we could train on the ways we do business at NIF,’” Sauers said. “So I started looking into what it would take to make that happen.”

One other problem he wanted to address was scheduling for NIF rad workers with overnight shifts. Booking the Lab-wide training sometimes required them to come in on their off days or blocking off time very early in the morning, Sauers said.

The NIF-specific course can be scheduled around NIF shots during the workers' shifts. The training, which began in mid-June, is also conducted at NIF instead of across the Lab in regular training rooms.

“It’s not a real sexy breakthrough or anything,” said Ken Kasper, NIF Radiological Operations manager. But asking the overnight workers who already put in 12-hour shifts “to stay for three more hours to do training, it’s almost inhumane,” Kasper said. “This is great because now we can do it on their schedule. They don’t have to work a minute of overtime. It’s our workers on our schedule and our instructors and our content.”

And the NIF-specific course can be adjusted over time to cover new trends or issues, Sauers added.

Sauers estimated the training will save about 100 hours in employee work time over the course of a year.

“It’s in our best interests to give training that covers our controls,” he said. “And, of course, we want to use their time efficiently.”

Creating the new training took time because it wasn’t as simple as adding NIF-specific elements to the existing course.

Balancing Requirements

The process involved developing a new course from the ground up that balanced DOE and Lab requirements with those of NIF, while making sure everyone involved in training and certification was on the same page. And Sauers needed to secure a site and training equipment, and then get the course onto the LTRAIN scheduling system.

Covering all the bases took time, said Sauers, who thanked Le and Wells for their help.

“It couldn’t have been done without them being willing to look at a way to recraft the way Lab-required training is delivered,” Sauers said.

Le called the project a “good success story,” noting that it takes people with initiative to get the ball rolling.

“There’s plenty of room to be flexible and tailored to our needs as long as we do it right,” Le said. “We can be compliant at the same time as being efficient.”

The training is conducted by Sauers, Radiation Safety Officer Richard Beale and Radiation Protection Associate Robert Doyon. Eventually, NIF plans to qualify radiological operations field supervisors as instructors to allow for greater flexibility.

So far, the reaction is positive, Kasper said.

“You do a lot of training at the Lab no matter what you do,” Kasper said. “The training mandate is a big chunk, so if you could take that big chunk and reduce it by a little bit, you get happy faces right away.”

Sauers, Beale, Training Administrator Julie Fietz and Instructional Designer Tammy Tucker recently received NIF & Photon Science awards from the associate director’s office for their efforts developing the training.

Kasper credited Sauers with shepherding the project, making sure it passed muster from everyone involved including Le and NIF Training Manager Omari Mangrum.

“He was like a pit bull with it,” Kasper said of Sauers. “He just wouldn’t let up on it. And it could be a model for a path that other people might chose to follow. We might choose to follow it for other things.”

—Benny Evangelista

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