A day in the life of a Nuclear Industrial Safety Professional – Part two

Welcome back to the rest of the story about Duke Energy’s commitment to health and safety of employees and a look into health and safety work activities at a nuclear plant.

 One of the benefits discussed about working in the health and safety field at Duke Energy are the many opportunities for continuing education and training throughout your career. Duke Energy promotes continuous learning and supports employees who want to attend industrial safety conferences and training sessions to maintain their qualifications and learn new industry safety standards.

 In the nuclear industry, there is no typical day in the health and safety profession. A day could start with a member of the safety team attending management meetings to gather information on an investigation related to a safety incident or a new program. Safety professionals may also attend various Pre-job Brief (PJB) meetings with teams as they prepare to perform work to ensure they practice safe work behaviors with every job. They also examine internal and external areas of the plant to ensure walkways are safe and clear of trip and fall hazards. Brunswick’s health and safety team continuously conduct job safety analyses (JSAs) which includes reviewing and walking down identified potential safety hazards for each job at the plant site.

Ted Smith, Lead Safety Professional at Brunswick Nuclear Plant, verifies correct operation of heat stress monitors to ensure worker safety in hot environments.

Ted Smith, Lead Safety Professional at Brunswick Nuclear Plant, verifies correct operation of heat stress monitors to ensure worker safety in hot environments.

The health and safety team also creates safety presentations to share with employees that show proper work methods or job hazards to raise awareness. Team members conduct regular field observations of teams from various departments performing day-to-day tasks in the plant. Safety is an important part of every department and team at a nuclear station.

 Ted, Mike and Donald said it is amazing how far the health and safety industry has grown and matured over the years. The progression in allowable events has diminished greatly. Actions that were once allowed, even as normal practice years ago, are not allowed today. Ted, Mike and Donald say they are extremely proud to work for Duke Energy, a company that takes care of its employees and promotes working safely on every task and every day. Ted went on to say, “Duke really cares about their people and constantly monitors work to make sure employees are safe and everyone goes home safely.”

 The team offered some parting advice for anyone looking at a career in industrial health and safety. While it is a growing field and demand is stable with many organizations in need of a safety department, it takes a lot of passion for people to perform the job well. A health and safety professional must take some ownership for safety related events that may occur and work to correct behaviors or workplace surroundings that may have caused the event. A person has to have a passion for the job and for helping other people. As a mentor from Mike’s past once said, “It’s not a job, it’s a calling.”

safety first

A day in the life of a Nuclear Industrial Safety Professional – Part one

Employees working in the nuclear industry take pride in promoting and working in a safe environment. Not only are there highly trained teams of security officers around every corner, behind the scenes there are teams of industrial health and safety professionals who help to ensure employees work safely, avoid injuries and that all work taking place is carried out in the safest manner possible.

Industrial health and safety employees are not only responsible for their own individual safe work standards, but they develop and implement safety programs to foster an environment where employees watch out for each other and practice peer coaching every day. Many of these programs encourage employees to be focused while performing work, identify hazards in immediate and surrounding areas and to keep their “Eyes on Path” when walking on site.

We talked to three safety professionals from Duke Energy’s Brunswick Nuclear Plant to gain some insight about how they became industrial health and safety professionals and what they do in their day-to-day jobs.

Ted Smith, Mike Johnson and Donald Dixon have been with Duke Energy for a combined total of over 90 years. When asked why they entered the health and safety profession, they each reflected on a deep feeling of wanting to help people, keeping them safe and saving as many individuals as possible from harm. The beginning of their health and safety careers ranges from working as a summer intern with Duke Energy in health and safety, to working for OSHA for four years and serving as a safety professional for a fossil plant.

A career in industrial health and safety has a strong outlook for the future. Nearly every manufacturing, construction, or corporate organization has a need for health and safety professionals that are well trained in safety job standards, workplace potential dangers and OSHA incidents. Ted, Mike and Donald reinforced the importance of a strong education in industrial health and safety. Many colleges and universities offer majors in Industrial Safety, Industrial Hygiene, Health and Safety and Safety Engineering. With organizations and businesses increasing their focus on industrial safety, it is more important than ever to have a safety-related degree or advanced training to start your career path.

Be sure to visit our blog next week to read the rest of the story about Duke Energy’s commitment to safety and the type of work performed by health and safety professionals at nuclear plants.

safety first



Brunswick Nuclear Plant recognized for partnering in STEM education

Duke Energy was recently honored by Brunswick County Schools in North Carolina for Brunswick Nuclear Plant’s (BNP) continued involvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics(STEM) promotion and education. Brunswick employees Sandi Brown, manager of nuclear oversight and Women in Nuclear (WIN) member, and Robert Faciane, control room supervisor, accepted the award at the Brunswick County Early College High School awards and service ceremony for involvement in STEM Speaks programming.

Sandi and Robert receiving STEM award.

Sandi and Robert receiving STEM award.

Duke Energy and BNP were recognized for a strong community partnership with Brunswick County Early College High School and assisting students to achieve excellence in STEM fields of study. STEM Speaks inspires students through science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. While the demand for energy and science professionals is increasing, the amount of students entering STEM fields is declining. 

Duke Energy’s employees provide a vital link to STEM concepts by offering presentations and programs to students and the community, which include hands-on, inquiry-based programs complementing our nuclear and science technology standards of professional work.

Duke Energy’s involvement in STEM Speaks exposes students to science and technology fields and helps them see possibilities of entrepreneurship and careers in energy. “Many more children will have the opportunity to be introduced to the STEM principles by way of classroom discussions and hands-on activities,” said Sandi Brown, Brunswick manager of nuclear oversight and WIN member.

STEM professionals involved in the STEM Speaks program give students insight into the science field and employment opportunities that are available. Students receive resources on energy and STEM education that prove to be invaluable when incorporated into their school curriculums.

STEM Speaks award

STEM Speaks award

“The hands-on interaction from STEM Speaks hopes to inspire passion in STEM disciplines and lead students to a career field that they would have been otherwise unaware of,” said Sandi. “Showing students how they can impact the future through science, technology, engineering or mathematics is important in the future of our energy economy.”

In addition, students have opportunities to develop “soft skills” while getting to know STEM professionals. Crystal Dameron, senior nuclear scientist at BNP and a member of WIN, spoke at this year’s STEM Speaks event. Sandi and Robert are members of the Brunswick County STEM council which promotes involvement in education and STEM industries.

Teachers also benefit from the program by receiving resources on energy and STEM education they can incorporate into their school curriculums. Teachers are given guidelines in developing energy related lessons.

STEM Speaks is key in sparking an interest in students and teachers to advance in the areas of energy, science and engineering to achieve sustainable energy solutions.