Today at Berkeley Lab nameplate Berkeley Lab
Thursday, April 7, 2005
S P E C I A L   E D I T I O N
An Urgent Message to All Employees from Lab Director Steve Chu

I am deeply concerned about the recent rise in the number of injuries at our Lab. Over the past 10 years, Berkeley Lab has worked hard and continuously reduced our injury rates. Last year our injury rates were among the best of the 10 Laboratories in the DOE Office of Science. Since January, our injury rates have shown a steady increase. A review of these injuries indicates that many could and should have been prevented. Recent injuries include: those incurred from lifting objects, from repetitive stress due to improper computer use or workstation set-up, and from falling down stairs or slipping in water. We also had an employee struck by a car while rushing to catch an on-site bus. 

We have a collective responsibility to work safely.   If we work together and help each other we can reverse this negative trend and continue on our path of great science performed safely every day.

I want divisions and workgroups to immediately begin discussing how injuries occur in your organization and what you can do to prevent them. I want you to understand that taking time to work safely is our highest organizational value and my top expectation of your performance.

In your discussions, please consider the following:

  • Some employees report that they are rushing or not taking the time to plan their work carefully — take the time and plan your work. If you are not sure you are qualified to perform a task, don't do it — get someone that you know is qualified.

If you are not sure you have the right tool, get the right tool. Also, stop working with enough time to safely get to a meeting or home, including catching the onsite bus.

  • Many of our recent injuries involve material handling. Effective immediately, unless you are confident that you can lift the object by yourself, get help or use mechanical assistance. If the lift is awkward, please consider this and adjust your lifting ability downward to be sure you can lift it safely.
  • Many of our injuries occur in the presence of fellow employees. That means we can help each other by warning or stopping our fellow employees if we see them doing work or behaving unsafely. Encourage your co-workers to peer-check you, and the Lab will have fewer injuries.

I know many of you have had these discussions already and are taking action. I appreciate your efforts. I also want to stress that continued reporting of injuries is very important — both to ensure the injured employee gets prompt treatment and to learn. We also have a wide variety of methods for you to use in reporting an unsafe situation. Please work with your supervisor, or visit the EH&S homepage for more reporting avenues — including ways for you to report anonymously.

We have a great Laboratory, so let's demonstrate that we can solve this problem the way we meet all our science objectives — by working smart and working together.

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