Safety update

Fermilab Director
Pier Oddone

Perennial awareness is crucial to maintaining a safe environment. All of us can contribute to this state of mind. I try to do this in several ways, including writing about safety periodically in this column. Today I am pleased to be able to bring you good news on the safety front. The rate of recordable accidents has dropped by a factor of two from this point last year. Even more importantly, the rate of injuries that required either time away from work or restricted work is the lowest ever. If we maintain the same performance for the second part of the year, we will have a record low number of DARTS and TRCs for the year. Kudos to all of you for your efforts to keep yourselves and your colleagues safe. Keep up the fine performance!

One aspect of our safety culture that is growing in importance at the lab is Human Performance Improvement. Since we strive for a very low number of injuries, statistical fluctuations tend to obscure short-term trends. HPI methodologies help us look beyond the numbers to understand where we need to improve and learn. The laboratory offers different levels of training on HPI, and DOE has prepared excellent guidance documents for us to use. We have also incorporated HPI considerations into job planning and feedback systems such that our culture of self-improvement allows us to report incidents without fear of repercussion.

As we move through the second half of this fiscal year, keeping these few points in mind might help us maintain our good safety record:

  1. None of us is getting any younger, and what was easy for us to lift or pull two decades ago is not what we should strive to lift or pull today. Know your limitations.
  2. “Take 5” before you begin a job, and be sure to undertake only those for which you are prepared and trained. This is especially true for folks who may think they are capable of doing all jobs necessary to get something done, including material handling, mechanical work or machining.
  3. Stop, pause and “Take 5” after an incident. Think about what went wrong and how you can tell others the lesson you learned. As a laboratory, we have a tendency to want to fix issues quickly and move on. This can mean a missed opportunity for the organization to learn from such events. Even small incidents can teach us important lessons.