ES&H – A world wide lab perspective

Nancy Grossman

Nancy Grossman, head of the ES&H section, wrote this week’s column.

Similar to physics, ES&H staff have international safety conferences. I attended my first International Technical Safety Forum (ITSF) last month at SLAC. It was an excellent forum for sharing ideas and concerns. I was amazed at how similar our issues are: egress/fire issues with deep tunnels, resource needs with tight budgets, using IT to improve efficiency and the constant issue of how to communicate effectively. Many topics were covered at this forum. I’ve highlighted three of them below.

The accuracy of drawings

We are not alone in our concerns about the accuracy of drawings. All the laboratories have discovered inaccurate drawings when either upgrading or decommissioning areas. Even recent drawings are not always accurate. This is especially a concern for electrical hazards. With our imminent decommissioning activities and upgrades/modifications to the Main Injector and Recycler, this is a concern for us too.

Sleeping hazards

Sleeping hazards occur when something severe happens or several failures take place at once. They are more likely in areas where conditions are changing or there is overlap of responsibilities. In several locations at CERN, the complete loss of power and backup power and loss of cooling water were investigated and minor improvements were made such that these events would not have such a large impact on operations.

The semantic web

This is a relational database that is used some in medical and engineering areas, but not in ES&H. It provides a robust searchable database, where you could easily find the exact information you are looking for versus a plethora of related items. I can see the benefit of having such a database in the ES&H field. It would allow us to more easily share information on lessons learned and near misses.

It was a great forum that helped us see that we are not alone in our problems and we are all working to address them. As the web and communication channels improve, we will more easily be able to share information, databases and tools. It can’t happen soon enough!