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Given below is an interview with Mark Prenni, Safety and Health Manager for the Energy Business and Safety and Health Manager for the Construction and Procurement Division at Black & Veatch. In these positions, he is responsible for the development and implementation of company safety and health policies and programs that apply to those areas.

Prenni describes how safety, health and environmental (SH&E) practices are effectively maintained within Black & Veatch Nuclear Organization and during specific endeavors such as the company’s Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs) project in Taiwan. He also explains his role in helping Black & Veatch to meet its goal of zero injuries as part of the “Drive to Zero” safety and health program.

Please provide a brief overview of Black & Veatch Nuclear Organization and of your duties as Safety and Health Manager.

The Nuclear Organization resides in our Energy business, which performs design, procurement, construction and consulting for work associated with power generation, transmission and distribution as well as any work in the gas, oil and chemical fields. My role is to ensure that all of the company’s expectations for our “Drive to Zero” safety and health program are implemented in each facet of the business. OOf that, a major piece is our nuclear operations.

Black & Veatch Nuclear Organization is currently performing design engineering, procurement and construction liaison for two new Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs) in Taiwan. How does Black & Veatch ensure that safety, health and environmental (SH&E) practices are maintained during this project as well as during other overseas projects?

With regard to the design, the ABWRs in Taiwan are designed in accordance with United States codes and standards. Black & Veatch established a codes and standards database for the design work we perform so that everything is designed to meet practices followed in the U.S.

How was Black & Veatch Nuclear Organization chosen to work on the ABWR project in Taiwan?

General Electric (GE) chose Black & Veatch’s Nuclear Organization based on the performance of the First-of-a-Kind Engineering (FOAKE) effort that was performed prior to the Lungmen Project to obtain ABWR Design Certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). This effort resulted in NRC certification of the ABWR, which led to the Lungmen Project proposal and subsequent award.

Black & Veatch Nuclear Organization has performed major security modifications and upgrades at several nuclear power plants. How have these changes helped to improve employee and public safety since they were first implemented?

The purpose of any effort to increase the security of a nuclear facility is to protect people, whether it is our clients, our professionals or the public. Therefore, preventing terrorism and sabotage is a basic principle in any plant security effort.

Black & Veatch Nuclear Organization participates in the U.S. Utility and Department of Energy’s First-of-a-Kind Engineering (FOAKE) ABWR program and in the Economic and Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) program. What are the terms and benefits of Black & Veatch’s participation in these programs?

These are cost-share programs that allow some level of design and design certification submittals for NRC review/approval to be prepared on a cost-share basis while the government shares in the funding. Black & Veatch receives a partial reimbursement of costs for the work performed.

What are the key elements of Black & Veatch’s Safety and Health Program, and how are SH&E practices successfully promoted within Black & Veatch Nuclear Organization?

What makes us successful is our professionals. Whether through training and information, personal protective equipment or engineering controls, our professionals have the appropriate resources to protect themselves from any hazard that they may encounter, and they apply those resources toward our goal of zero injuries on every project and in every office. Safety, quality, cost and schedule are all key for our company and our professionals to be successful. We are an employee-owned company, and our professionals directly benefit from working to achieve all of our goals. That ownership helps us to make things happen.

As Safety and Health Manager, how do you ensure that Black & Veatch’s “zero-injuries” goal is met within the Nuclear Organization?

Each business/division within Black & Veatch develops a formal “Drive to Zero” injury plan annually. Every professional’s annual performance evaluation is tied to the execution and implementation of their respective business/division plan. Each month, the business/division presidents review the completion status of the plan with the Chief Executive Officer of the company. The Nuclear Organization has a responsibility to the Energy business to execute their part of the plan. My job is to work with the leadership team to ensure that each professional has the appropriate time, material, tools, equipment and training to perform every task injury-free.

What methods does Black & Veatch Nuclear Organization use to train its SH&E staff?

Black & Veatch is a very diverse company that performs work in many different environments. This diversity provides many potential exposures for our professionals. To support our professionals, our safety and health group needs to be pretty versatile. Each of our safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals has an Individual Development Plan that they use to plan their future in the company. If our SH&E professionals become part of the Nuclear Organization, we review their current knowledge and education and appropriately build on that based on the project assignment and nuclear-specific needs.

How does Black & Veatch Nuclear Organization help its clients to comply with state and federal OSHA regulations as well as with NRC regulations?

When we perform design work for our clients, all of the facilities and plants are designed to the appropriate federal, state and local regulations. When we perform onsite construction activities, we work within the confines of our clients’ and our own safety and health programs, depending on which is more stringent. We first strive to meet all laws and standards, then we determine how to best protect our and our clients’ professionals and the public. We use industry best practices and our clients’ and our own programs, which in many cases exceed applicable standards and regulations. Black & Veatch’s Nuclear Organization also maintains a Safety-Conscious Work Environment (SCWE), which is consistent with NRC guidelines.

Black & Veatch has received 14 STAR Awards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and it has also received the British Safety Council Safety Award and the Engineering Construction Industry Association’s Safe Working Award. How did Black & Veatch qualify for these honors?

In general, the awards follow project performance. Our business is to provide our clients with services, typically in the form of some mix of project design, procurement and/or construction. By engaging our professionals, clients, labor, subcontractors and regulators in our projects, we can all work together effectively to provide the safest workplace possible. In many cases, our projects are recognized for the high level of protection they provide. We are very proud of our awards because they represent our stakeholders’ commitment to providing a safe and healthy workplace.


Mark Prenni has 14 years of experience in managing and implementing safety and health programs for major industrial construction projects. Several of those projects have received STAR and Demonstration Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) status from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

At Black & Veatch, Prenni is the Safety and Health Manager for the Energy Business and the Safety and Health Manager for the Construction and Procurement Division. In these roles, he has global responsibility for the successful development and implementation of company safety and health policies and programs that apply to those areas.

Prenni is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and a member of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and of the VPP Participants Association. He holds a bachelor of science degree in safety sciences from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.