Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Injuries

From Anomymous:

Think about this figure for a moment. If 322 people were injured at LANL during
the last year, that works out to be almost 4% of the workforce! Does Pete
really believe this? If so, then he's more out of touch with reality than I
ever imagined. Either that, or the anti-nuke folks are right and this place
needs to be shut down immediately. Which is it, Pete?

My hunch is "The Admiral" sees this letter as a loving Valentine's Day gift. It's
his ackward way of demonstrating to the staff just how much he cares. After all,
he states he'll be taking the time to personally train each and every AD in the
"Ways of Safety". The Master's knowledge will then be passed on down the line
to the students.

Pete, if you really want to help people from hurting this next year, then
please resign. The biggest injury I've seen around here is emotional -- it's
the staff who are now completely demoralized, despondent, and fearful largely
because of your failed leadership. Let the healing begin. Please go now.


Comments:
I'm disappointed to see Pete attempting to implement behavioral safety programs from the top down.

This safety initiative, as was implemented in CMR, is fundametally a bottom-up system. Why? First, because the workers performing the safety observations must have the trust of the subjects of observation, or those subjects may be motivated to hide safety problems for fear they will be punished. Second, the first-line worker should know the most about what makes a job safe.

With top-down implementation, the trust that is the foundation of behavioral safety isn't fostered. People may hide safety problems from the manager-observers, and the entire point of workers helping uncover safety deficiencies, knowing they are secure, is lost.

Behavioral safety worked in CMR precisely because the workers there embraced it and the managers understood that they had to stand aside so the process of trust could help illuminate safety problems workers would never show them directly.

But now, Pete is training managers, who will roll the whole program down hill to the workers, who will learn about this system last. Seems like an approach with an objective of power and control rather than enlisting the workers to help make the place safer.
 
Why not have the "real" safety experts (if they really ARE the experts) from DuPont do the Lab-wide training--once? Why have Pete do it to the ADs at about a 10% level of efficiency, followed by the ADs doing it to mid-level managers (again multiplying the throughput by 10%), followed by middlemen doing it to Division Directors, and on down to Group Leaders, with a final level of delivery of almost zero content to the staff?

None of these guys have been really effective teachers in the past, particularly at the highest levels. Pete's latest all-hands meeting put the sparse audience to sleep.

Just cut to the chase and leave the middle filters out.
 
Heard a team leader say that if he
sprained his ankle at work he
would somehow drag himself to his
car and report to the hospital as
as a skiing accident. A technican
hearing this said if he burned
himself with a soldering iron he
would do the same. Does anyone
seriously think that threats of
dire consequences make for good
safety.
 
Heard a team leader say that if he
sprained his ankle at work he
would somehow drag himself to his
car and report to the hospital as
as a skiing accident. A technican
hearing this said if he burned
himself with a soldering iron he
would do the same. Does anyone
seriously think that threats of
dire consequences make for good
safety.
 
Knowing that if I suffer an accident, it could result in the shutdown of the institute. I would definitely try to avoid any report of it, even if it was a serious case.
 
322 injuries last year means what? Fiscal or calendar? We all know one, and we all agree that it should never have happened. And I think we all agree that those folks who did not provide correct training should have been severely dealt with. But what were the other 321? Please provide a list of those injuries. No one cares about names, just what the inuries were, how many work days were lost because of them, and how many workmen's comp claims were filed.
 
More than a FEW of these injuries were undoubtedly from people slipping on the ice when Nanos would not call a snow delay!
 
Posted on all LANL bulletin boards is a memorandum from Brad Gallimore, HSR-5. The subject is Annual Posting of OSHA 300A Summary. THe OSHA Form 300A contains a summary of work-related injuries and illnesses for calendar year 2004. This form is attached to the meorandum.

The following information is included on the form:

Number of Cases

Total Number of deaths 0
Total Number of cases with days
away from work 4
Total number of cases with job
transfer restriction 114
Total number of other recordable
cases 149


Number of Days

Total number of days away from work 21
Total number of days of job transfer
or restriction 2084


Injury and Illness Types

Injuries 267
Skin Disorders 0
Respiratory conditions 0
Poisonings 0
Hearing loss 0
All other illnesses 0

Annual average number of
employees 9,072
Total hours worked by all
employees last year 18,144,907

The number of days away from work and number of days of job transfer or restriction in hours is 16,840. Isn't this about 1/10 of a percent of the total hours worked by all employees last year? How can this be so terrible?

This form was signed by J. Lee McAtee, HSR Division Leader on Jan 27, 2005. Why does this form list 267 injuries while Nanos' email said 322? Where did the number 322 come from? Where are the other 55 injuries documented? Are these people whose injuries were not reported to OSHA because they were caused by employees slipping and falling on the ice before they even reached their offices?

This is clearly not a problem for the Director since he has his own parking place in the lot on the south side of the Ad building which is probably first on the list of parking lots that are cleaned after a storm. As in the US Navy, "Rank has its privileges" is alive and well at LANL. Too bad "rank has its responsibilities" is not.

No one wants to see anyone injured as the student was last summer. However, the employees doing the work are the ones who should be intimately involved in developing the safety rules. Safety should be taught bottom up, not top down, because it takes far too long to get the message to the employees who really need it. And safety is not just a matter of a written SOP, manuals full of rules and regulations, etc. It's a way of thinking no matter where you are or what you are doing. But safety does not mean that employees drive to work on a snowy day just to sit in their cars because parking lots are not cleaned so they can't get to work safely. Getting employees safely into their work places is the Director's responsibility. Doing the work safely is the employee's responsibility. Defining what safely is is the responsibility of the employees doing the task and their manager.
 
Is there any way we can get more specific information about the injuries in 2004? I hope no other injuries were as serious as the one the student received to her eye in the Laser incident.

Also, is any information available of the "over 3000 conditions requiring action" that the Director mentioned in his Valentine's Day message? I have had no success in finding out from my former group.
 
If you have a Smart Card, you can get into the website:

https://int.lanl.gov/safety/ii.shtml

There, you will find the injuries that needed medical attention (none really, REALLY serious during the shutdown). Nevertheless, the rolling average annual rate went up from about 2.5% before to 3.0% AFTER THE SHUTDOWN! These weren't entirely trivial: overwork and stress leading to ergonomic injuries, parking lot accidents, snow days not being called by the Director (leading to falls--slips, trips, and paper cuts, according to him). Analysis has not yet been completed, I've been told, but the shutdown has freaked people out, and it shows in the accident rates. Check out the Director's Office and Directorate for some interesting stats. -Up and to the right! He's running a tight ship, all right!
 
I think any change in safety statistics after the shutdown is due to increased reporting of trivial incidents rather than any real phenomena. A similar effect was produced by the September 2001 anthrax scares, which caused an increase in the reported numbers of respiratory illnesses nationwide.

These data are so sparse and the trend lines so noisy, I don't know how anyone could make claims based on them. It's pretty easy for the Director to manipulate them by altering the parameters for reporting.
 
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