Message from Hugh Montgomery: Working Safely at Jefferson Lab

Message from Hugh Montgomery: Working Safely at Jefferson Lab

I want to share some recent events that have taken place at the Lab:

1) Last week, an employee was observed working from a scissors lift that was 15 feet above the ground. The employee was stretched out between the cross braces of the lift in order to work on the equipment. The original work plan called for the employee to wear fall protection because the employee had to lean over a railing. However the harness was pressing on the chest, causing pain. The employee and co-workers stopped wearing the harness and continued to work outside the protection of the scissors lift.

2) A few weeks earlier, an employee was securing the stored energy on a piece of equipment in order to trouble shoot it. Following procedure, the worker secured the main power, the local power, and equalized the stored energy. The next step was to insert a pin (locking bar) into the flywheel. The employee was unable to align the wheel to insert the security pin per the procedure. They then stepped away to obtain PPE for the team that was scheduled to arrive shortly. While the employee was gone from the room, the supervisor entered and discovered that hazardous energy control of the fly-wheel had been lost. 

3) Earlier this year, an employee stepped from a rolling step-ladder onto a support frame instead of using the designed and installed worker platform. When stepping down, the worker missed the step ladder, fell, and striking their back on the support structure, causing a vertebrae fracture. 

4)  The carbon vessel in CHL 1 is a large filter for the warm helium system. The vessel is 7 feet in diameter and 20 feet high.  It is filled with pellet-sized activated carbon, and requires replacement.  Last week the workers started the job, but discovered that additional vacuum pumps would be needed and relocated. The work was stopped while the plan was reviewed and additional mitigations were identified.  A TOSP was written, the workers were re-briefed, and work was re-started. 

These events have a few things in common:

·      There were well understood expectations of how to work safely that were reinforced by training and/or written procedure

·      Workers encountered difficulties in meeting those expectations

·      With the exception of #4, workers chose to take action inconsistent with their training and/or procedures.  Their evaluation of the situation and path forward lost sight of safety

Our policy is that nothing we do is so important that we will compromise our safety.

Bottom line: personal safety is both a condition for, and an expected outcome of any successful work here at Jefferson Lab, not an option. If the work cannot be done without compromising your safety, it has not been planned correctly or is not being implemented effectively. Stop, and do it right.