Michele McCusker-Whiting earns 2013 Industrial Hygiene Award for new databases

Industrial Hygiene Subcommittee Chair David Baird, left, and Accelerator Division Head Sergei Nagaitsev, right, present Michele McCusker-Whiting with the 2013 Industrial Hygiene Award. Photo: Reidar Hahn

Every day, Fermilab employees do what they can to smooth out the rough edges of laboratory life. They replace aging equipment, establish new safety protocols or clarify communication channels to improve the well-being of the lab’s workforce. They also track unwanted incidents so we can all learn from them and better our work environment.

Accelerator Division’s Michele McCusker-Whiting has made these processes easier for everyone at Fermilab. She has created two online databases, accessible to anyone working at the laboratory, that capture unwanted incidents and hazards. The databases, to which lab staff may subscribe, allow people to easily report and view incidents labwide.

For this work, which has simplified the human performance improvement and hazard analysis processes at Fermilab, McCusker-Whiting has received the 2013 Industrial Hygiene Award.

“This is a wonderful surprise, and I am humbled by the recognition,” she said. “I’m glad I had a chance to create something that’s useful to everyone at the lab.”

Human performance improvement (HPI) is Fermilab’s approach to reviewing and mitigating accidents and near misses. McCusker-Whiting created the labwide repository of incidents from scratch. The HPI database is grouped by division and section and further by department. Incidents are easy to navigate, and viewers can see an incident’s full details. It can also be viewed as a timeline.

McCusker-Whiting also created the lab’s online hazard analysis (HA) database, which was originally developed and used by only the Mechanical Support Department.

“Michele is an excellent choice for the award. The HA and HPI databases are extremely useful and are great tools,” said Technical Division’s Richard Ruthe, representative in the Industrial Hygiene Subcommittee. “We incorporate industrial hygiene issues into numerous HAs in our division.”

Fermilab’s Industrial Hygiene Award is given annually to a Fermilab employee or group whose efforts have resulted in substantial progress to Fermilab’s Industrial Hygiene Program, which is concerned with the control of occupational health hazards that arise as a result of or during work.

“Michele’s talents were clearly on display, and it drives home the very important work message of acting locally but thinking globally,” added Dave Baird, chair of the Industrial Hygiene Subcommittee.

View the hazard analysis database, the HPI database (KCA certificates required) and the HPI event timeline.

Leah Hesla