Monday, October 31, 2005

Lab Report Claims Mistreatment; LANL Employees Told to Return to Work After Exposure to Acid

By Mark Oswald
Of the Journal

A Los Alamos National Laboratory worker was injured after he and another maintenance technician were exposed to hydrochloric acid— and the exposure continued after they told a supervisor they smelled acid, but were sent back to work.

The injured worker has decreased lung capacity, according to a June 30 U.S. Department of Energy report.

The accident took place in October 2003, but a report on the accident wasn't published until this summer by the DOE's Office of Environment, Safety and Health. The accident report was triggered only after the injured worker was finally diagnosed with an occupational exposure in February, according to a lab spokeswoman.

The DOE's report says the accident took place amid "what appears to be a work environment of mistreatment and reprisal" within LANL's DX-1 group.

The two technicians who were told to re-enter the work room after smelling acid fumes "both felt that if they refused, it would put their employment status in jeopardy," the report states.


Full Story

This report is pretty ugly, with the lack of training, worker intimidation, failure to stop work, etc... It shows that the Lab "safety culture" to be a sham, at least in DX Division.
The comments by Kuckuck would be more convincing, if he actually did something, like removing the managers involved in the incident. They are all doing well thank you. More lip service, like Browne. Also, Kuckuck was the head of the "Lab Oversight" at UC when LANL (Jackson/Menlove) wrote new personnel policies without telling UC. They created "employee probation periods" at LANL, during which probationary employees can be removed without appeal or recourse. It is fine to talk about the employee's "right" to stop work, but if they are on probation it can cost them their job. The two injured employees were both on probation. Any surprise they were intimidated?
It isn't just this awful incident; LANL culture and policies support worker intimidation. This must stop.
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