Argonne’s strength is in its people
By Betsy Dunn, Health, Safety and Environment Director
Friends and neighbors occasionally ask what I like about working at Argonne. For me, it’s an easy answer — it’s the people. We get to work with some of the most talented people in the world and we have a shared scientific mission that we can all get behind and feel proud of. We make Argonne more than just a workplace — we make it a community. We have clubs, special interest groups and sporting activities. We get together with our families at the annual Argonne picnic, and we each look out for one another when we’re on the job.
It’s the looking out for one another that stands out as a unique strength to me. Here at Argonne, we’ve built a community that prioritizes the wellbeing of its people.
Since the beginning of the year, I’m happy to say that we’ve had numerous people report safety issues and concerns. When you notice issues and report them, the lab can take action and remedy the situation before accidents can happen.
In January, Eric Wilkinson (NWM) and Dave Kuzma (NWM) paused work when they saw a potential electrical hazard that wasn’t covered in the project’s work planning and control (WPC) package. They pulled in others, including an electrical subject matter expert (SME), to figure out a solution and update the WPC package. This approach prevented them and their colleagues from being exposed to an electrical hazard.
In February, Kelsey Reynolds (NWM) and Larry Thompson (NWM) called attention to some unique materials discovered in Building 200. Due to their quick thinking, the area was secured until an SME could evaluate the materials. Again, it was because of individual people taking positive actions that the issue was mitigated before anyone could be exposed to a hazard.
Every single one of us has the authority and responsibility to pause work when things aren’t clear — stop, think, observe, plan (STOP). After that, we can continue.
The goal is to take a proactive approach so we can get ahead of safety incidents before they occur. But occasionally, incidents do happen. It is wholly unfortunate when they do, because we care about you and want you to go home safe at the end of each day.
That is why it is so important that you report incidents and near misses. First, we want to ensure that you are okay. Second, we need to know what happened so we can take immediate action so no one else can be injured through a similar situation.
So, thank you to all of you for reporting issues before and when they happen. Reporting issues, concerns and incidents is one of the ways in which we continue to build community, by caring for one another. It’s not just something we’re required to do — it’s the caring, neighborly thing to do.