Slips, trips, and falls cause many injuries at Y-12 National Security Complex and the Pantex Plant, resulting in bumps and bruises, broken bones, and torn ligaments. Despite the efforts of aggressive awareness programs, accidents have increased in recent years, particularly with inclement weather conditions. Now, employees at both sites are being trained to safely walk across slippery or icy surfaces using a training tool called the “Slip Simulator.”
The simulators incorporate a 9‑foot tall frame with a safety line/harness centered over a pathway tiled with glass panels, which instructors spray with window cleaner for extra slickness. The simulators can also be arranged with obstacles and uneven surfaces. Participants strap on sandal‑like soles studded with Teflon washers that with the wet surface, help mimic the slickest situations imaginable in an effort to train employees to walk in these situations.
Deputy NNSA Administrator Madelyn Creedon participated in a training session with the use of the “Slip Simulator during her recent visit to Y-12.
“This is a very innovative training tool designed to address one of the most vexing safety issues that we face at all of the sites in the Nuclear Security Enterprise,” Creedon said. “I was impressed by how effective it is in training people to safely walk on slippery surfaces.”
In the training, instructors coach people down the path of the slip simulator, teaching them to use a different gait than normal. On the first pass, each trainee slips and slides with arms flailing and feet going every which way, but in a controlled and safe manner that protects the trainee. Then, the posture and movements learned from instructors lead to a “click” between mind and body as the lessons learned are applied to walking on the slippery surface.
The Slip Simulator was invented at Virginia Tech, developed with a United Parcel Service grant. After UPS drivers trained on it, falls dropped by 70 percent.
The national average cost of similar workers compensation claims ranges from $25,000 to $35,000. At Y-12 and Pantex, the average cost may be even higher because of the specialized work performed by employees and time away from the job. Each simulator costs $38,000, about the same as one fall injury claim.
All Y-12 and Pantex employees will have an opportunity to attend the Slip Simulator training class.