Staff meetings

Fermilab Director
Pier Oddone

Over the last couple of weeks Young-Kee, Jack Anderson and I held seven meetings with our Fermilab colleagues. We hoped to meet with everyone in the laboratory in groups that fit in One West so that we could have more thorough discussions than are usually possible in the larger Ramsey Auditorium all-hands meetings.

We held these meetings for the first time last fall, and they received positive feedback. This time around, the Employee Advisory Group advised us that lab staff would profit from a more thorough discussion of Fermilab’s scientific projects and programs following our transition from the Tevatron, of the safety performance over the last fiscal year and on communication and management issues at the laboratory.

These meetings have proven quite lively, with the opportunity for ample discussion and for tailoring discussions to different audiences, as groups were aligned with different types of jobs at the laboratory.

One common concern discussed in all these meetings is the increase in the rate of injuries that we have experienced over the last year. While we could wave away the recent increases as being nothing but statistical fluctuations, the trend seems to be more than that, especially when coupled to feedback from the recent ES&H survey. The survey revealed that many folks felt they had to work under the pressure of tight schedules and to multi-task several jobs.

Employees also voiced concerns about the fiscal prognosis for the country and the laboratory. All of these factors can predispose us to commit errors that might lead to injuries unless we are mindful that working safely takes priority over meeting a deadline. We have an image of ourselves as being a “can-do” bunch of folks, but we need to take care not to let our “can-do” attitude override our ability to think ahead and work safely.

One laboratory-wide measure we are taking to improve our performance in safety and in executing our jobs is to offer training on Human Performance Improvement. I took the course myself last week and would recommend it to all who will have the opportunity to take it – many of your colleagues already have. HPI is a philosophy that we want to apply to all activities in our organization. It requires us to take the organizational measures needed to limit the frequency and the consequences of errors that will inevitably occur at some rate. HPI is now being broadly implemented in industry both domestically and abroad. DOE has done an excellent job in preparing manuals on HPI that are highly recommended. The first volume covers concepts and principles, and the second volume covers tools for individuals and teams.