Know Your Safety Envelope

Know Your Safety Envelope

Dec. 5, 2012

Do You Know Your Safety Envelope?

An event of note and four injuries in the last few weeks have focused attention on the importance of planning and its impact on safety at Jefferson Lab.

First, I am pleased to report that the Thomas Jefferson Site Office approved our Accelerator Safety Envelope for operating the accelerator at 12 GeV. We expended a good deal of effort to define the Accelerator Safety Envelope (ASE), spending six months analyzing the hazards and risks associated with operating the accelerator. The completed ASE identifies the bounding conditions and limitations within which the accelerator must be operated to assure the safety of workers, the environment and the public. The ASE informs the procedures followed by operators to run the machine and serves as input against which experimental reviews are conducted with the Halls and FEL. You can find the ASE on the ESH&Q website.

The Accelerator Safety Envelope is an important achievement, but it also serves as a reminder that it is important for each of us to establish our own individual safety envelopes. Our Worker Safety and Health Program provides us with the training and tools to do this. We know, for instance, the importance of defining our scope of work, analyzing hazards, and defining and implementing hazard controls.

Looking at four recent injuries, it is clear that all of us need to work more safely. All four injuries required treatment beyond first aid; two resulted in lost and restricted time. The injuries are summarized below, but in each case there was an element of an employee exceeding his or her limitations.

* Employee worked in an awkward position for an extended period experienced severe back pain after straightening up;
* Employee attempted to jump over a puddle, missed the curb and fell, injuring his head and hand;
* Subcontractor employee attempted to lift heavy trench cover by hand. The cover slipped, crushing and fracturing finger;
* Employee lifted a 40 pound fire extinguisher and felt a pop in shoulder; surgery to repair is scheduled for this week.

When planning your work, ask yourself: "Not only, what's the worst that could happen? But, given the hazards of this task, what is the range of all mishaps that could occur?"

Another question should be: "What is my Safety Envelope and can I perform my planned task within the Envelope?" If you cannot, then it's time to re-evaluate your task or ask others to help you evaluate your task so that it falls within your Safety Envelope.

As the old saying goes: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Mary Logue
ESH&Q Associate Director
Jefferson Lab

You can contact Mary at


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