Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Laser eye injury in mid January at the DOE laboratory NREL

From Anonymous:

It is worth pointing out that there was a laser eye injury in mid January
at the DOE laboratory NREL (Natl Renewable Energy Lab.) in Colorado. The
accident was in many ways similar to the LANL accident. A preliminary
accident report is available at:


There have been no expressions of outrage from Congressman Hobson or
Congressman Barton.

There have been no stern warnings issued from the Secretary of Energy.

There have been no calls to cancel the contract to run NREL.

The NREL Director has suspended Class 3b and 4 laser operations, but has
not called for a labwide shutdown.

There have been no public announcements of the accident, as a google will show.

So what's your point?
A link to the full report of the LANL laser injury can be found at:

"So what's your point"

It is sort of self evident. However,
it is clear that NREL does not have
a worthless director like LANL has.
The NREL director took the right action. Nanos should have done the same. In July
Nanos should have been out fighting for LANL, instead he turned on us. Maybe NREL has some jobs in the future for people who will leaving LANL.
For God's sake stop whining, and get real! Nanos needs to go, and he will go, but LANL employees won't accept that they have a miserable safety record. Look at the Occurrence Reports; which they now hide from the public. Not only are there too many occurrence reports, they aren't resolved in a timely manner, and management doesn't accept responsibility.
The LANL incident was real. Reading the accident report made me mad as hell; not just at Cremers but his management. He was in violation of all the safety requirements, including safety glasses, and his management wasn't "walking their spaces" and didn't care. Where were his co-workers? Laser accidents will happen, with the best of efforts; but this was simply a matter of not following requirements. He was rightly fired. If he hadn't been it would have sent the wrong message; that good scientists won't be fired for safety infractions.
The tone of this forum is that LANL employees still don't believe their bad safety record. If so, they deserve the names Nanos called them. Read the Occurrence Reports, the PA violations, the DNFSB reports, and the OSHA inspection reports by ESH-5. Then talk to the TA-55 folks, about all their cover ups, including violation of the "two man rule" and unreported contamination. TA-55, and other, managers, are "managing the numbers", not the work environment.
LANL has very real problems with their safety culture, and denial will simply prolong them.
To the 3:33 poster: did you read Kaupilla and Horne's report on the CREM incident? Until you have, you could do us all a favor and quit your own whining. Most of us have made up our minds regarding the appropriateness of Nanos' actions based on what we now know actually happened regarding the CREM and laser incidents. If you don't like that, too bad; learn to deal with it, but quit wasting everybody's time by trying to get us to change our minds.
I actually agree with the post at 3:33. The laser incident was nothing like the CREM incident as far as I can tell. The TSM was at fault there in the laser accident. And apparently, there were safety rules that had not been implemented by management.

I am not sure whether firing the TSM was appropriate or not, but I do think the fact that neither were wearing the safety glasses of the right wave-length for the laser is very incriminating.

As for LANL's safety record. I agree that it is good. I also agree that managers are managing the numbers. They are blaming the innocent whenever an accident happens and are not reporting accidents when they should. Employees who speak up about safety problems are retaliated against on a regular basis, because if an accident occurs, the manager will probably be demoted and possibly fired. This is not the kind of environment that encourages good reporting.

I have personally observed this kind of retaliation in several incidents.

Nanos is wrong to claim that we have a bad safety record when we don't. On the other hand, if the numbers were reported correctly we would probably find that our safety record was a lot worse than it claims to be.

It appears that Nanos is a bit schizophrenic about safety. He wants to cover up the incidents and he allows managers to blast employees who report accidents. Then he rants about our safety record which is actually good on paper.

We need a director who is a straight shooter and who really wants to improve both the reporting and the record. To do that, he would have to punish retaliation for reporting safety problems, not the reporting of the safety problems. For that to happen he would have to get his managers on board with reporting the truth. His attacking of managers who report accidents, just makes them more likely to try to hush safety problems up rather than correcting them.
Part of the problem is this behavioral based safety program which by its very nature won't work.
I hate to jump into the fray here and potentially repeat ideas already shared since I haven't read all the previous posts or comments and don't live in Los Alamos, but a quick thought about Director Nanos' statement where he called employees cowboys, scofflaws, etc... and said he didn't care how many people he might have to fire. The anger and "whining" by employees now is more than understandable seeing as how he has created a hostile work atmosphere. His attempts to throw everyone under the bus but himself has created a siege mentality, with employees and the town circling the waggons to defend themselves from all criticism, whether valid or not. As a result, the outside world is definitely getting the impression that Laboratory employees are spoiled and in denial of changes that need to be made. (Too many of these lawsuits are starting to look as if everyone is trying to jump on the same gravy train as Walp and Doran). Personally I think that these changes should include improving safety and environmental impact and finding a new director, but not a new contractor. If a CEO of any company or a leader of any organization were to have the crisis management skills (ha, ha) of Nanos, they would have been replaced long ago. It is time for some damage control and, as symbolic as it may be, it has to start with the immediate "resignation" of Nanos.
Nanos is NOT the problem. The denial of LANL being a lax, non-safety conscious work environment is. You act as though this is a university campus. It is NOT. It is time to grow up and treat your jobs seriously.

If Nanos goes his successor will have to come in and finish what he has started. New face, same job. The successor will fail unless he finishes what has been started to correct the long ignored lab deficiencies.

You continue to not have an appreciation for how far this institutions reputation has fallen.

At least Nanos is actually trying to affect a positive change. TURN OFF THE TEARS!!
Nanos is NOT the problem. The denial of being a lax, non-safety conscious work environment is. You act as though this is a university campus. It is NOT. It is time to grow up and treat you jobs seriously.

If Nanos goes the likely successor will have to come in and finish what Nanos started. New face same job.
to the 7:37 post 1) show me ONE example where Nanos was "affecting a positive change" and I shall gladly turn off my tears right now
2) you talk about falling reputation - is Nanos not a large part of the fall here? Is his continuous trashing of LANL's reputation not pushing us all down? is there really a cowboy culture here? are we all a bunch of stubborn whiners and Pete is the only righteous manon the Hill? Read some peer-reviewed journals, please.
Ok, kids.

Feel better now?


Lets us all try to make sure we've had our afternoon naps before posting comments to the blog.

Thank you,

Your Moderator.
"If Nanos goes his successor will have to come in and finish what he has started."

How about we put that hypothesis to the test? ;-)

I'm guessing the first orders from the new director are "Full reverse! Hard to starboard! Iceberg 12 O'clock!"
To 7:38pm.

LANL never, I mean never acts like
a university campus. I have been
in plenty. Where do you get off saying that? I have visited over
70 research universities over the
years and not one is like LANL. Look
if this keeps up anyone who is any good will, in fact, be leaving for a university position. Then guess what? DOE will shut this place down,
because it will be worthless. Think about it. We will be in our new positions and you will be where?
Can't see LANL shutting down, at least until Domenici is gone. More likely, LANL will become a production/maintenance oriented facility. Too entrenched as a source of funding for Northern NM.
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