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From the Director: Planning it Right!

(Image - work planning and control process diagram)

Good work planning and control is an essential process at SLAC that allows us to deliver the lab's mission with high quality and outstanding safety. Over the past two years, the lab as a whole has put a lot of effort into improving the work planning and control processes, or WPC, and I am happy to see genuine progress as Integrated Safety Management becomes real at SLAC.

The message that proper work planning and control are integral to successful completion of our work and mission cannot be over emphasized. Good work planning and safety come before schedule without question or qualification. So I start there. However, I've just taken the new WPC training that many of you are participating in, and I like the new framework that is being put in place.

I like the concepts of authorization of work and release of work. This is new language to describe what many of you have been doing for years, but now we have a common vocabulary, a common understanding, and a common system.

Authorization of work is done by your supervisor, who knows the kind of work you are qualified to do and makes sure you have the right training and the right tools. Release of work comes from the area manager or building manager, who understands the complexity of the day's activities at a given site.

SLAC has been releasing work like this for years at tailgate meetings and the 8:15 Main Control Center meeting. While this is not a new concept at the lab, we are now implementing a common practice and common vocabulary site-wide.

The WPC course emphasizes the responsibilities of the building and area managers and I think we have work to do to strengthen that program. We also have to ensure that our supervisors really understand their responsibilities for authorizing the work of their employees.

We all have to remember that a process like WPC is a framework for the lab. It does not replace your obligation to think about what you are going to do. It does not override your responsibility to plan the work carefully, identifying and analyzing the hazards, asking "what could go wrong?" and ensuring adequate controls are in place. Above all, it does not replace your obligation to stop any work where there is a change in scope that requires re-evaluation of hazards and controls, or your obligation to stop work if you believe that a task poses an imminent risk of serious injury.

We are making progress and your participation in the process of implementing WPC has and will continue to be critical. I started the year saying that 2009 was a year of executing the plans we have been making. Nowhere is this more visible than in the implementation of the new WPC framework. Yes, it is hard but I like what I'm seeing. Let's keep it up!

—Persis Drell
SLAC Today, May 22, 2009