Watch out!

Fermilab Director Pier Oddone

We have started the fiscal year with a bang—the wrong sort of bang. In the first two months we have already had four accidents that required days away from work or work restrictions (DART cases). This concerns me a lot. These are our colleagues getting hurt enough that it affects their lives and their work. The statistical errors are large with only four events, however, the average number of DART cases per year for the last four years is only 6.75. We have demonstrated that we can do even better—in FY2008 we had only three DART cases for the whole year. So let’s live up to our best standards and aim at zero for the rest of this year. We want everyone to come to work and leave work uninjured!

Whenever I emphasize the numbers in safety-related matters there are always folks who remark that all we care about is the numbers. We care about keeping our employees safe, and the numbers are useful if they indicate a developing trend and focus our attention on the task of keeping ourselves safe. For example, winter has started with the increased probability of slips and falls. This is a good time to review the many steps we can take to decrease the probability for injury.

If I look at the four DART cases so far this year, they fit a familiar pattern: two serious falls, one set of pulled muscles while carrying out a cable installation and one strained back lifting a 40-pound package. These are all avoidable if the work is correctly planned and if we are conservative about what physical work we can do without the aid of equipment or a co-worker. Just because we were able to lift a lot of weight without any trouble years ago does not prepare us to lift a lot of weight today.

We have a huge amount of physical work to do this year to secure the Tevatron and build and run our new projects. We must be careful carrying out these new tasks, and equally as when we are doing simple, familiar, everyday tasks. Persistent attention to safety—Taking Five at work and at home—will see us through the day safely!