Think outside the box and initiate change

Nancy Grossman

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

Step back, look at the big picture and think outside the box. We are good at that. That is why Fermilab is so successful.

We are all being asked to do more with less and thus it is important to be innovative in our approaches. Now more than ever we need to step back and be innovative. Is there a better way of doing this? Are there better tools to use? Could someone provide input or help and make the job easier?

Just because we have done a job in a certain way for years doesn’t mean that is the best way to do it. In fact, it probably means it is time to revisit the process as there are many new tools out there – especially in the electronic world – that can make our jobs easier. Systematically filing manuals and other documents labwide with our new Engineering Database Management System (EDMS) called Team Center is a great example.

We have had several injuries this year that led to people missing work or having limited-duty work days. We have also had a few near misses where someone could have been severely injured. In all these cases we used Human Performance Improvement (HPI) tools to look at the error precursors to these events. What decisions did people make that resulted in them getting hurt or almost hurt? In all cases there were many bigger picture items, processes and inappropriate tools that contributed to the injury/near miss.

Those doing the tasks know best what is hardest about them. Together with their managers, they should step back and initiate change. Taking a bigger picture HPI perspective helps you improve the system and the overall program. So take the time to look at the tasks you do – big and small – and see what can be improved regarding efficiency, effectiveness and ES&H.