Fermilab Suspends Project Construction Following Worker Injury

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Batavia, Ill.-Officials at the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory announced today (June 22) that they had ordered a contractor to suspend work on a construction project at the laboratory. The stop-work order, issued June 21 to the S.A. Healy Company, followed an on-the-job injury to an employee of the Layne-Western Company, a Healy subcontractor.

The accident occurred on Thursday morning, June 21, when equipment failure in a surface drilling rig resulted in injury to the operator. The injured employee was taken by ambulance to Delnor Community Hospital, where he was reported in stable condition. The accident is the latest in a string of workplace injuries to subcontractor employees that have occurred over the 15-month course of the Neutrinos at the Main Injector construction project. On June 13, a week before the accident occurred, Fermilab and S.A. Healy management ordered a day-and-a-half safety stand-down on the construction project to address ongoing safety concerns at the NuMI construction site. The stand-down provided training in job-specific hazard analysis as a way of integrating safety into all aspects of the work.

“There is no aspect of the NuMI Project more important than the safety of the people who work on it,” said Fermilab Director Michael Witherell. “Our thoughts and best wishes are with the injured employee and his family. We will continue to take whatever steps are necessary to bring the safety performance on this construction project up to the standard we require in every part of laboratory and subcontractor operations.”

As a result of the stop-work order, Healy and its subcontractors may perform only activities necessary to keep the construction site in a safe stand-by status, as well as inspection and maintenance of equipment. Fermilab officials gave no estimate of the projected duration of the work suspension.

The construction is part of the Neutrinos at the Main Injector Project, which will direct a beam of subatomic particles called neutrinos from Fermilab’s particle accelerator to a detector in a former iron mine in northern Minnesota. The project requires the excavation of a series of tunnels and caverns beneath the Fermilab site.

“The NuMI Project is an important part of our science program at Fermilab,” said Associate Director George Robertson. “We are eager for it to go forward. But we are determined that it will go forward safely.”

Fermilab is operated by Universities Research Association, Inc., under a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy. -30-