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Safety is key at Dominion plant

By Ryan Cornell

FRONT ROYAL -- Although the $1.1 billion Dominion Virginia Power plant in Front Royal is the largest dollar-value project the county has ever seen, it's also one of the safest.

The construction site uses a variety of safety measures, including a few that will be introduced to future Dominion projects.

Colored hard hats indicate the experience of each worker. Orange helmets are worn by workers with fewer than 90 days on the site, blue helmets are worn by workers with more than 90 days on the project, white helmets are worn by foremen and supervisors and green helmets are worn by safety professionals.

Dominion Senior Safety Specialist Mike Stroble said most construction sites will use a sticker on the helmet to indicate experience, but the colored hard hats are more visible.

"When you're out there walking around, you can look at these [new] guys and you try to make sure they're doing things in a safe manner," he said. "And also within their own organization over there, I'm sure it helps mentor these guys and I think they pair them up with older employees who have been on the site longer."

Colin Kelly, site construction manager, said there are about 15 safety professionals who walk around to ensure that workers are following safety instructions.

"It's our way of keeping focus on those guys, making sure they get familiar with the site," he said. "They might have 20 years of experience, but it's the time here on the site that counts."

During days of high wind, a black flag is raised at the site and workers are instructed to wear their spoggles, their name for foam-lined safety glasses.

Kelly said these spoggles have proven to be a "success story" in reducing particles from blowing into people's eyes and the eye injuries that typically follow.

Workers are required to take quarterly harness training sessions, which simulate the beams and ladders of the construction site.

Another station on the site is a tool trailer that teaches new workers correct techniques for using different tools such as drills and grinders.

"Most people would probably have one way to do it and it's probably wrong," Kelly said. "It's probably not the safest way."

Nearby, a gloveboard teaches new workers which types of gloves to use for different tasks. Some gloves might be cut-resistant while others are flexible.

"When [new workers] come through initially, they start off with a full day of training, so no one goes through this site without sitting in a classroom for a full day," Kelly said. "So that is definitely far and above what everyone else does."

Workers start each morning with a daily radio message, a stretching exercise and a safety task analysis that outlines the risks and hazards of the day. By the end of their shift, each of the workers evaluate how they did and what they learned.

"You start the day with safety and you end with safety," Kelly said.

The Warren County Power Station is scheduled to begin its operations in the fourth quarter of this year.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com

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