Laboratory-wide survey on ES&H culture

Fermilab Director
Pier Oddone

In April, the ES&H Section distributed a survey on laboratory safety culture to Fermilab employees. I have reviewed the results of this important survey and wish to share them with you.

I am very pleased to report that survey participation was nearly 70 percent, a very high response for a survey done on a voluntary basis. I want to thank you for your participation.

The roughly 50 questions covered the gamut of Fermilab’s safety issues. Given the good response rate, the survey provides us with an overall view of where we are in ES&H and where we need to focus our future efforts. In addition, DOE encouraged its laboratories to conduct their own surveys so that we could benchmark ourselves and determine what is working and what is not. (We will receive those benchmarking results in the fall.)

Overall the results were quite positive. Nearly everyone reports that we have a good safety culture, that people are treated with respect and that they are engaged in our safety program. This is not something that every laboratory or corporation can say of its work environment. The lab has worked hard over the years to get to this point and we hope employees, as well as visitors and contractors, will continue to feel this way. Open communication of issues is key.

The areas that people pointed out as having the most room for improvement included high workload and time pressures, multitasking and many new, unfamiliar, non-routine tasks as we move into new projects. We are currently looking at ways to best address these issues and are planning to include employees in the process. You are our eyes and ears in the field and can help us figure out our next steps, so we will ask for your input on how to tackle these issues.

In addition to the answers to the survey questions, we received more than 100 comments and suggestions. Quite a few people commented on how much the ES&H program has improved in recent years and that we should look to implement Human Performance Improvement to improve our safety and efficiency record. This feedback is along the lines of my comments in my recent article on zero defects.

Several also commented on the difficulty of reading The Porcelain Press, and we are currently working to improve the publication’s format to address this. We will look to address other suggestions as well and will share them with you in the future.

You can view the complete survey results, including those broken down by divisions, sections and centers (though some were grouped together to ensure anonymity).

With your help, we will work to fulfill our mission of making Fermilab a safe work environment for everyone.