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In this issue:
From the Director: Eye Injury at SLAC
Laser Incident at SLAC—Next Steps
Help Celebrate Archives Month 2009!
Ancient Fossil TurnsĀ 45
Word of the Week: Bakeout

SLAC Today

Friday - October 2, 2009

From the Director: Eye Injury at SLAC

(Photo - Persis Drell)
(Photo by Brad Plummer.)

Last Thursday, a serious incident occurred in one of SLAC's research laboratories at the PULSE Institute for Ultrafast Energy Science. A trained and qualified laser operator removed his protective eyewear to perform a laser alignment procedure. A stray laser beam entered his eye and burned his retina, causing a localized blind spot in his peripheral vision. The individual was extremely fortunate that his injuries were minor and he is expected to recover. However, the injury could have been much more severe, including possible loss of eyesight. Removal of the eyewear was against the SLAC laser safety policy, the laser facility posting signs, and the facility's Standard Operating Procedure document.

Commendably, the individual promptly sought medical attention, reported the incident, and all laser operations in that laboratory were stopped. While it would be easy to look at this event as an isolated case where someone made an unfortunate choice and removed the last barrier of protection, we cannot and must not dismiss it as such. We must and will learn from this event. Lab management responded rapidly and issued a laser research stop work order throughout the laboratory for all Class 3B and 4 lasers in research labs, as SLAC community members saw in the all-hands notification last Friday morning. Lab staff are currently working through a process to restart the affected laser labs. Prior to authorizing restart of these laser facilities, the engineering, administrative and personal protective equipment, or PPE, controls are all being reviewed to ensure they are properly understood, in place and implemented.  Read more...

Laser Incident at SLAC—Next Steps

Lab staff are currently working with great care and dedication to get SLAC's laser research labs up and running safely again as soon as practical. The key pacing element in this process is ensuring that all personnel are safe and ready to work safely again.

SLAC has a detailed set of actions covering verification of operating procedures, training (classroom and on-the-job training), and deliberate requalification of laser operators. Even though laser safety training, certification processes and protocols were in place, the incident calls for us to re-assess our laser safety practices and accompanying work authorization process. SLAC Laser Safety Officer Mike Woods, working with our Environment, Safety and Health director and senior management, has coordinated the development of a restart procedure for laser operations in research labs. The process includes a review of all Class 3B and Class 4 laser facilities, additional training and re-approval for all System Laser Safety Officers (SLSOs) and Qualified Laser Operators (QLOs), and a review of research laser Standard Operating Procedures. Before laser research re-commencement is approved, both the ALDs and the laboratory director must be assured that all new restart processes have been completed with the diligence they require. Details of those processes are available online.

A review of the Linac Coherent Light Source and Next Linear Collider Test Facility injector facilities indicated that the drive laser systems operate as production facilities with a stable optics configuration, and the standard operating procedures and facility safety controls were sufficient to allow the drive laser and X-ray free-electron laser components of the LCLS to continue running. Interim measures are in effect at these facilities until they go through the same process as the research labs for retraining and recertification. As interim measures, if any laser optics work is to be done, for example, to tune the lasers, Mike Woods will review, approve and observe the laser optics work. Other lasers that will be used for pump-probe experiments in the Atomic, Molecular and Optical science instrument must be recertified as safe before those experiments can continue. 

Help Celebrate Archives Month 2009!

The SLAC Archives and History Office is looking to share the inside story on working at this lab, and to celebrate the many and varied contributions of all sorts of specialists to its daily science and science support activities.

Do you have a significant item in your work area right now? Something you use, or have used—or see or have seen—on a regular basis that has special meaning to you in your work? Is it old? New? Shiny? Worn? Big? Small? Used every day or seldom? Important to your functioning because (you fill in the blank)?

Submissions are due by October 20. 

(Photo - Paleoparadoxia fossil)
(Image: SLAC Archives and History Office)

Ancient Fossil Turns 45

Speaking of SLAC history:

Happy anniversary, Paleoparadoxia! The fossil was discovered during SLAC construction 45 years ago today.


Word of the Week: Bakeout

(Image - video player)
 (Video by Calla Cofield and Brad Plummer.)

What does aluminum foil have to do with physics? Science writer Calla Cofield explains in this video installment of the Word of the Week.


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