Combatting Unique Workforce Challenges in the Nuclear Sector

 
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The US is responsible for more than 30% of the world's nuclear generation of electricity.

This level of job demand is being met with waning interest, creating complex workforce management challenges for HR and Operations to address.

Here’s how the right workforce management software can help combat the labor problems for the nuclear sector and the oil and gas industry at large.

Aging Workforce is Creating a Skills Shortage

While it seems like every shift-based industry is experiencing a worker shortage, nuclear is in slightly dire territory.

Nearly a third of professionals in the nuclear sector are aged 55 or above, compared to just 20% in oil and gas. To prepare, the industry needs to make sure that the transfer of knowledge happens between the retiring and new employees. But where are the new employees?

There is a struggle to get the next generation of workers in the door. Certain roles are highly technical and inherently more difficult to fill. Mikhail Chudakov, Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) puts it best. “No matter how high-tech, automatized and digitized the machinery is, in the end, you need people to run it. Skilled people. People who have absorbed the safety culture in their hearts and minds.”

Since the industry is so dependent on the competency of its workforce, it’s important to have a centralized place that hosts all your employee information. How are you currently keeping track of your employee’s skills and certifications? If it isn’t in the cloud, then it isn’t centralized; if it isn’t centralized, then valuable certification information won’t be easy to find.

A fully functional and integrated qualification management system (QMS) is the answer. That way, you’ll have access to a skills matrix that allows for multiple tie-breakers to ensure that the most optimal—and available—employee is working the right job at the right place.

Fatigue is a Compliance Issue

A study on sleep deprivation exposed just how dangerous being tired on the job can be. Sleepy workers not only tend to forget to complete a task they were supposed to do, but they also do things that can lead to setbacks or harm. In a hazardous environment like a nuclear power plant, this can be deadly.

Skilled, competent workers aren’t just a key to success—they’re legally required, and fatigue management is a critical compliance piece.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requires certain nuclear facilities to have fitness-for-duty programs to “provide reasonable assurance that nuclear facility personnel are trustworthy, will perform their tasks in a reliable manner, are not under the influence of any substance, legal or illegal, that may impair their ability to perform their duties, and are not mentally or physically impaired from any cause that can adversely affect their ability to safely and competently perform”. The specific requirements vary from facility to facility, but NRC protocols typically entail work hour limits, a minimum number of break hours between shifts, and fatigue assessments.

Considering the nuclear sector has such high demand and a shortage of workers, this dichotomy can make it difficult to stay compliant when you are scrambling to get a job done. But it doesn’t have to be difficult.

If your organization is still relying on paper-based scheduling, it’s easy to accidentally assign an employee too many hours or to schedule a person’s shifts too close together. Besides putting the company at compliance risk for violating the fitness-for-duty program, you are also putting that employee at risk of drowsiness, increasing the likelihood of an accident.

Having an automated process in place greatly reduces such human error scheduling risk and ensures schedule fairness.

How Indeavor Can Help

There’s a way to overcome these challenges keeping your HR and Operations teams up at night: Indeavor’s proprietary solution, Workloud.

Workloud is our workforce management SaaS solution which offers clients an end-to-end, cloud-based employee scheduling, time & attendance, and absence management system. Workloud integrates with your human capital management and enterprise resource planning systems to create a robust platform that provides you with real-time employee data.

Learn more or request a demo here.