NEWS | April 26, 2021

Norfolk Naval Shipyard Improves Trade Skill Training with Valuable Visual Aid

By James Anderson, NNSY Welding Shop Training Director Norfolk Naval Shipyard

Invented by Dean Luxton in 1968, Glo Germ is a product that is typically used in the medical and food industry fields to show the dangers of cross contamination—and is now an educational tool that Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) has repurposed to deliver superior radiological contamination training due to the product’s visual properties under a black light.

In 2019, NNSY’s production shops were presented with a new challenge of individually implementing trade skill-specific training. After considerable run time and an opportunity to assess their program, the weld shop’s training staff realized that the standard approach used to train shop personnel involved in radiological work could be improved using a visual aid. The idea of using Glo Germ to remedy this problem became a collaboration between NNSY Welding Shop (Shop 26) Contamination Skills Instructor Jessica Haton, Nuclear CTD Instructor Mike Hobbs, Nuclear Continuing Training and Development (CTD) Lead Ronald Stewart, and Kelly Mason, then Shop 26’s Subject Matter Expert. 

The group came up with the idea when Haton discussed ways to visually demonstrate to students how contamination could be spread to unwanted areas. As Haton said, “I felt like some employees may not fully understand the importance of controlling contamination at the source. I wanted to create something for our class that would show students how they could potentially spread contamination.”

Mason remembered how she saw Glo Germ in a magazine article once and brought it up. “We had the auditory and kinesthetic learning styles covered in our training but needed something to appeal to the visual learners,” she recounted. “Glo Germ was the perfect solution.”

 Turns out, it was also easy to obtain. “I contacted one of the shop planners who ensured the product was on the AUL (Authorized Users List) and purchased it,” Stewart explained.

When the Glo Germ kit came in, Hobbs and Haton experimented with the product to come up with a realistic demonstration for their training. Eventually, Hobbs came up with an idea to create a mock-up piece. A wrench was used to thread a nut that had been covered in Glo Germ onto the mock-up. Once complete, they turned off the lights and used a blacklight flashlight to inspect the mock-up area. The results showed how contamination could not only spread from the nut to the thread, but onto the rest of the materials, tools and on Hobbs. “It truly gives the students a visual on how easy contamination could be spread,” Hobbs said. 

To incorporate how Contamination Control Work Practices could be used to prevent this type of spread of contamination, Haton retrieved a pair of anticontamination gloves from the locker in the Nuclear Continuing Training and Development area that stores the clean yellow gear used in training. She then donned the gloves and used the same Glo Germ covered wrench Hobbs used to remove the contaminated bolt from the mock-up. After following standard trained work practices to take off the gloves, they discovered that contamination had been effectively controlled at the source. No Glo Germ had been spread to her hands nor her clothes.

Everyone involved in implementing this initiative is pleased with having this valuable visual aid to emphasize the importance of preventing any potential spread of contamination.  “The confidence level we see in our mechanics regarding contamination now is a reassuring sign that this was the right path for developing our shop,” Stewart said. “The product is a good value and effectively demonstrates how trained skillsets are effective against any potential spread.”