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From the Director: Plan It Right or Don't Do It!

Over the past months, a dedicated group led by Karen Fant has been developing new tools and training to improve the work planning and control process (WPC) on the site. We need this. Good work planning is essential for both quality and safety.

It will take time to fully implement the recommendations of the WPC committee. Because work planning and control is a high priority for SLAC, the WPC committee recommended some interim steps to provide immediate work controls and safety measures for planned work.

First on the group's list was to "assure staff, through the line management chain of authority, that senior SLAC management is committed to putting work planning and safety ahead of schedule." This column is the first of many such assurances you will have from me and the Associate Laboratory Directors.

The committee observed, in private comments to me, that currently "work planning, including integration of safety, isn't required to happen early enough in the process to be adequately implemented at the activity level; .... Many don't know what is required to properly plan the work; and there are few consequences for not planning the work properly."

You may all have had difficulties balancing safety expectations and programmatic goals. In the past, SLAC has prided itself on its incredibly efficient production of important science. This pride is an important factor in our culture. Unfortunately, it has led to situations in which compromises may have been made with respect to safety, and now also presents an impediment to our necessary movement to a more robust safety culture.

The SLAC director, associate directors, program managers and department heads are personally responsible for assuring that all work in their organizations is adequately planned. Planning must include sufficient time and resources to allow for integration of environment, safety, and health issues and allow adequate time for planning and performing subordinate tasks. Managers are responsible for ensuring this same expectation is communicated and implemented throughout all levels of their organization, down to the worker level. "Plan it right or don't do it" will be the standard, and everyone should appreciate that successful managers plan ahead.

I ask each of you to take the time today to consider the projects and work you are currently responsible for, and ask the question: "Has the work been adequately defined, planned and analyzed such that all significant hazards and risks have been identified and adequately addressed prior to starting work?"

If the answer is "no" then I ask you to stop work and take corrective action.

I commit to you that you will have my full support in such actions, even in the event of conflicts with significant SLAC programmatic and schedule goals.

Persis Drell, SLAC Today, December 14, 2007