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Injury Prevention Talks Produce Ideas and Energy

Nearly all work at SLAC is a collaborative effort—safety is no different. With this in mind, the lab held site-wide injury prevention meetings on Thursday, May 11.

The meetings were part of a lab-wide effort to reduce injuries following the news that SLAC has already had more recordable injuries for fiscal year 2006 than it did during all of fiscal year 2005. The intent was not to place additional work or burden on any one group, but rather to foster discussion. At the end of the talks, work groups were to come up with two ways they could positively affect safety in their areas.

The small group discussions allowed everyone to provide input, and the focus was on "managing up" instead of "managing down." The solutions that groups came up with were well thought out, creative, and reflected a willingness to positively affect safety at SLAC. In fact, most groups were so engaged that they provided an abundance of interesting suggestions.

After the discussions, the Directorates' ES&H Coordinators looked over all of the suggestions and decided which items to pursue. These actions include:

Back safety
- Use hand trucks and carts to distribute heavy printed materials, and never allow anyone to lift heavy boxes by themselves.
- Have back safety lunch talks with actual demos on proper lifting.

Slow Down & Pay Attention
- Take time to do the job in a safe manner and be more aware of your surroundings and potential hazards. No rushing through a job for the sake of getting it done.

- Find areas and situations in buildings that pose slip or trip hazards and either mitigate the hazards internally or submit service requests to CEF.
- Put stickers near handrails to encourage people to use them when ascending or descending stairs.

Cut, Punctures Lacerations
- Pad sharp edges in experimental areas (e.g. unistrut, metal plates, protruding bolts) to prevent head lacerations.
- Wear hard hats when working around equipment.
- Wear leather or mechanic's gloves when assembling and disassembling equipment.

General Safety
- Use a fresh set of eyes (figuratively of course). Have employees from one work group visit colleagues in another to look for safety issues. This is a way to catch unsafe situations that can be overlooked due to familiarity with the situation.
- Have weekly safety meeting in the shop areas. Discuss weekly situations to improve safety. This is done for large projects but not always done for day-to-day work.

Some employees were concerned that these talks were a reaction to injuries and not a proactive effort to prevent them. In contrast, senior management feels this was indeed an attempt to be proactive by calling for these actions before they were mandated by a more serious event.

While correcting unsafe conditions, wearing PPE and having better awareness of hazards is a good first step for reducing injuries, what is more important is fostering open discussions about safety and taking personal responsibility for your actions. We should all remember that promoting safety is everyone's responsibility.

—Tom Rizzi