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From the Director: Work Planning Moves Forward

(Photo - Persis Drell)

Last week, we invited in a team from Oak Ridge and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, led by Kyle Turner of McCallum-Turner, Inc., to perform an assessment of our ongoing Work Planning and Control program implementation. They focused on how the WPC program was implemented at the worker level and shared their observations and recommendations with the associate laboratory directors and me during an out-briefing last Friday.

The good news is that SLAC staff are generally aware of and using elements of WPC, such as understanding the hazards and controls of your work, and authorization and release. They determined that many of you believe that the release process adds value, your roles as area or building managers are better clarified and that a commitment to and understanding of Stop Work Authority is strong. They were generally impressed with how the organization was implementing WPC, given the stage of development of our program.

Of course, they also told us where more work was needed. While the lab has come a long way, we (management in particular) need to continue to focus and support full implementation. Many areas for improvement revolve around increased management involvement. For example:

  • Clarify how the WPC program interfaces with our rigorous accelerator work releases process;
  • Ensure planning is rigorous for complex and high hazard work;
  • Strengthen the AHA program and clarify its role as part of planning; and
  • Focus on areas (types of work or departments) where "additional paperwork" seems to be non-value added.

An observation I found particularly interesting was that acceptance and comfort with the WPC program was "clumpy." In a given work group, one would see that either most workers were comfortable, or few were comfortable, pointing to the important role that the managers have in implementing this program.

Over the next couple months, the WPC liaisons will be working with Leslie Stepanek to review the observations and recommendations and develop a plan to close the gaps. As a lab we have to understand that WPC is not a milestone, but a process that requires long-term commitment on our part to integrate WPC into the way SLAC does business in all organizations and all levels of the laboratory. As with so many of our activities, the progress is impressive, but we still have a long way to go!

—Persis Drell
SLAC Today, July 24, 2009