Monday, February 21, 2005

Work-free Safe Zone

From Anonymous:

Here is the Work-free Safe Zone sticker of LANL All-Hands and Science fame.

Work-Free Safe Zone

Pete totally missed the boat on this one. He went on a diatribe about how
the people who created this sticker didn't care about safety. This is a
total misrepresentation of what this was about. This was a commentary on
the increasing trend towards paper-based safety, a trend which continues
unabated. Please post on the LANL Blog as I'm sure people would enjoy
having their own copy.

In addition, Nanos ought to get a sense of humor. This bumper sticker made a point, and it was funny.
I completely agree.

Nanos's reaction to this bumper sticker was a prime example of his utter ineptness as a manager.

An effective manager, particularly one who had only recently come onto the job, would have seen that bumber sticker and asked "Why are people saying this? Is there something wrong with the way we are implementing our safety program?" Upon asking those questions, the effective manager might have discovered the truth: that LANL's scientists and technicians had become so bogged down in meaningless paperwork, supposedly related to safety but doing nothing to promote safety, and in "training" so simple-minded that it seems to be aimed at grade-schoolers rather than Ph.D.s, that the productivity of experimental projects was coming dangerously close to zero. Upon discovering this, he might have embarked on some meaningful reforms to remedy this situation.

Instead, Nanos went off on that same old track his one-track-mind has followed since his arrival at Los Alamos: "The problem lies in the attitude of the scientists!" And promptly embarked on program of incoherent ranting and abuse, going so far as to smear his own people before Congress and the press. Then he topped it all off with an INCREASE in meaningless paperwork. It is now virtually impossible to do experimental work at LANL.

Thanks to Nanos, the bumper sticker appropriate for today should omit all reference to "striving." We're there!

Los Alamos: A Work-free Safe Zone
It's not so much that the training is simple-minded as the dangerous assumption that once you have received this all-important training, you are automatically considered safe and therefore any and all accidents are now your full responsibility.

Whatever happened to mentoring? On the Job training, where the nuances and critical thinking are instilled into you such that they are habit-forming and yes, instinctive. This was true knowledge and protection.

I see safety as the integration of training, paper-based authority, lessons learned, peer review (more than behavior observations), and time spent in real OJT.
Hey, I totally disagree with the sentiments expressed by the bumper sticker, but I will defend one's right to deface his own vehicle with a stupid bumper sticker!

Some of us work here to preserve our Freedom of Speech. What part of "Freedom of Speech" did Nanos and his Washington buddies not get?!
There was a scheduling conflict between the "Freedom of Speech" colloquium and the "Kiss My @$$" colloquium and the Washington buddies could only attend one.

-dug (*Not* Doug)
Same, Small Group of Highly Vocal People, member #1147
Training people to be safe only goes so far in a hazardous environment. What about removing hazards from the work place or placing protective guards around them.
Blaming those who are injured accidentally only makes employees nervous. Employees who are afraid when they are working in dangerous areas are more likely to make mistakes than those who feel that they know what they are doing and will not be fired or retaliated against if they make an honest mistake.
Managers who try to cover up the mistakes on their watch or fail to remove as many hazards as possible are the ones who deserve severe punishment.
And I agree that Nanos' lack of humor has made him look like an idiot. He should have laughed with the Nerdsletter instead of going on a rant. He could have joked along with it. He lost a chance to become a well liked manager when he went after the Nerdsletter.
The Nerdsletter was an example of healthy parody, though I admit there were a couple of managers who were really got nailed. If there hadn't been an element of truth to what was in the Nerdsletter, it would have been forgotten right away. But it was good and honest and and pointed and Nanos's ill timed rant about it made people recognize its accuracy, even more than they had before
Careful what you say! What if someone could see behind the secrecy that protects us and realize that things have improved from a "Work-Free Unsafe Zone?"
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