Thursday, May 05, 2005

New top-level thread on the safety meeting

(Note to Doug: How about setting up a new top-level thread on the safety meeting, as it's a little off topic for this one?)

We've had periodic safety meetings ever since I've been at the lab, which is now a loooong time, and they are not a bad thing, although they're not my preferred way of spending time. Done correctly, they can be both interesting and informative. Does anyone else remember when Don Liska, a world-class mountaineer, gave a safety talk on hypothermia (to an organization whose people spent a lot of time outdoors and therefore had an interest in the subject) illustrated with scenes and anecdotes from his trips to the Himalayas, etc.? I would just about have paid money to sit in that safety meeting.

The objectionable thing about this particular one wasn't so much that we had to take the down time for it, but rather the one-size-fits-all nature of the thing. T, LANSCE, SUP and DX divisions, to name a few, have obviously diverse needs when it comes to electrical safety. Given that Bodman wanted this done (and Pete told the truth for once in asserting that something similar is happening at other labs), it would have been more productive to have a brief (and less condescending -- more on that in a minute) opening statement, followed by Gordon's fairly good presentation, followed by dispersing to our own organizations for some serious introspection on electrical-safety issues specific to those organizations. Doing things this way simply continued the trend toward disempowering line organizations where the specific awareness of issues lies. That can't be right.

Incidentally, did everyone catch the frigging Admiral's jape about half of all electricians being below average? One could say the same of lab directors. The man seems incapable of making the most rudimentary statement without going out of his way to offend somebody.

Indeed, I do remember Don Liska, a very good accelerator engineer and a real no-nonsense guy. Still, at age 75, taking some serious back-packing trips.

Yes, the "one size fits all" mentality on safety and everything else is stupid. They are just going through the motions. The "means justifies the end."

What would have been productive is that each organization would have an electrical safety meeting specific to its safety hazards. But, that would have required thought and common sense.
At the hearing in Washington on Los Alamos lab, Jerry Paul said the vast majority of costs for the stand down are reimbursable by the government, though about $14 million in costs is being questioned.
What would happen if the government didn't foot the bill for the stand down?
I thought the safety meeting was fine -- except for Nanos wasting everyone 35 minutes with his rambling. Lloyd Gordon had a lot of good stuff, and, I hate to say it, Don Cobb had a lot of useful info too.

But, hey, it was priceless to hear Nanos say half of all electricians are below average! It didn't take us (watching in the safety and security of the group conference room, sort of a "Mystery Theater 3000" environment) to figure out that half of all Lab Directors are below average too!
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