By Jonathan Dorfan
Following the serious electrical accident on October 11,
2004, I created restrictions in the workplace. These restrictions have now
been lifted and this past Monday the Laboratory staff resumed ‘normal
In resuming normal work, there are revised processes and
procedures that govern the way we carry out electrical work and
hoisting/rigging. These processes and procedures are designed to ensure
that SLAC will continue to have a safer workplace and strong ownership by
the full ‘line’ for safety in the workplace.
Safety Comes First!
Extremely important to our success is the renewed
commitment of supervisors and their staff to consistently review, plan and
document their work using the Job Hazard Analysis and Mitigation (JHAM)
and the Area Hazard Analysis (AHA) processes. This will ensure that
hazards continue to be identified ahead of the work, that the appropriate
level of training is verified in advance, and that the applicable
protective equipment and procedures are consistently incorporated into the
work-execution phase. This process underlies the overall ‘line management’
approach to safety inherent to SLAC.
Work on electrical circuits is pervasive in any high-tech
workplace like ours. Such work can present especially hazardous
situations, which require a case-by-case safety review. The higher the
level of hazard, the more stringent will be our level of preparation,
scrutiny and sign-off. Under no circumstance should expediency or
convenience be accepted as a justification to bypass this scrutiny.
Of course this principle of ‘safety comes first!’ extends
to all areas of the workplace. The ‘Values and Expectations’ document
http://www-group.slac.stanford.edu/esh/eshvalues.html describes how we
balance our priorities to ensure that safety comes first even as we
achieve outstanding science.
A crucial element for safe work at SLAC is each
individual’s empowerment to stop unsafe work activities. Everybody at SLAC
has that right, without concern that they would be retaliated against for
doing so. The ‘Stop Unsafe Activity’ authority is outlined in the ES&H
manual, chapter 2, section 3. If at any time you feel your safety is being
put at risk, it is your responsibility to talk to your supervisor
immediately. If it is your judgment, as an individual, that you see some
work being done that you truly believe is unsafe, you are authorized to
stop the activity immediately.
The past few weeks have been challenging for all of us. We
had a so-called ‘near miss’ in hoisting and rigging. We had a very serious
electrical accident followed by a DOE Type A Accident Investigation. The
Type A Investigation Team concluded its investigation two weeks ago and
their draft report is at DOE headquarters for review. I anticipate that we
will receive the report and ‘Judgments of Need’ soon. It will take us,
together with the DOE Site Office, about two weeks after that to generate
a corrective action plan. Elements of the corrective action plan will
influence our approach to restoring the machines to operations.
All of us have attended numerous meetings and have read
many documents as part of re-invigorating our commitment to safety in the
workplace. A very large attendance of classes in safety-specific training
has also taken place. I want to thank all of you for your cooperation in
all these processes.
I have created the position of Electrical Safety Officer (ESO)
and Perry Anthony has kindly agreed to take up that position. The role of
the ESO is patterned on the successful model used in the areas of
radiation safety, pressure and vacuum vessel safety, and laser safety.
Please work supportively with Perry, as you do with Sayed Rokni (Radiation
Safety Officer), Richard F. Boyce (Pressure and Vacuum Vessel Safety
Officer) and Ted Fieguth (Laser Safety Officer).
We are grateful to the Director’s of Fermilab and Lawrence
Berkeley National Lab for providing, on very short notice, four each of
their experts covering the areas of electrical safety and
hoisting/rigging. These colleagues spent a week at SLAC and left us with
many very helpful comments, observations and recommendations. These were
part and parcel of the guidance under which we returned to normal work. A
small group internal to SLAC will conclude this week a study of our
policies and procedures for managing the safety requirements of outside
contractors and sub-contractors.
Moving forward involves three phases of activities:
Between now and the early part of 2005, our goal is to
re-establish user operations at SPEAR3 and B,
contingent on the Type A corrective actions which are forthcoming. We will
also use this time to continue to remedy deficiencies noted by the OSHA
and other audits.
The medium term phase will end around May 1, 2005 and the
long term phase about a year later. During these two periods, we will
increasingly refine and consolidate our high level safety procedures and
documents, complete training for that part of our staff that needs it,
continue correction of items noted by the OSHA and other audits and
implement any medium-term and long-term Type A corrective actions. In the
long-term, we will close out any remaining compliance tasks which we
committed we would complete prior to the recent accident.
Turning on the Machines
The near-term challenge in resuming the work associated
with turning on our machines is: 1) the effort required to achieve full
conformance to the new guidance for work performed on electrical and
hoisting/rigging, and 2) the need to gain ground on the OSHA-type
corrections. There will also be corrective actions coming from the Type A
‘Judgments of Need’. Satisfying these combined requirements means that
re-establishing the running machines will take significantly longer than
usual. But once we have completed this cycle of rigor, we will have these
new guidelines fully incorporated in our system, ready for future machine
The main responsibility for the safe return to work is, as
it should be, borne by the Associate Directors, their divisions and their
staffs. Within this "line" organization framework, each of us must renew
ownership of responsibility for a safe workplace.
Thank You All
In moving forward, let me again acknowledge that SLAC’s
greatest asset is the competence, skill and dedication of the SLAC staff,
namely you. I am very proud of the fact that the SLAC Family knows how to
work in support of each other, and knows how to team effectively to
achieve our goals. As we engage the challenges of returning to full
operations, our mutual spirit of cooperation and support will be more
necessary than ever. I know that you will all use this time to strengthen,
even more, the bonds and respect we all share, so that the demands of the
next few months leave us even more united, with no loss of the wonderful
spirit and deep commitment that has served us so well in the past, while
at the same time reaffirming our commitment to the goal of a safer
workplace for us all.
As always, I thank each and every one of you and greatly
appreciate your support as we move forward.