Many things that you might do for yourself with hardly a second thought at home, or even at some other laboratories, must be handled by professionals, or performed only after planning and authorization, here at LBNL. These restrictions come from our responsibility to fellow employees and the community, and our high public profile. We must not only be safe and environmentally responsible, but also above reproach — doing things right and leaving a paper trail to prove it.
Our Integrated Safety Management Plan tells us how to plan work, analyze the hazards, ensure controls are in place, and obtain authorization before starting.
Authorization of a New Job or Process
For new experiments or work processes, your Program Safety Coordinator and other Division Safety Personnel can help you identify the hazards associated and the controls needed. The Hazards, Equipment, and Authorization Review Form is a tool to help you think through the hazards analysis process. Our EHS Liaison and EHS Subject Matter Experts will help you identify the hazard controls needed. Be prepared to demonstrate that the controls are in place before your work authorization is approved.
Some hazards encountered in our work require special authorizations. Consider these issues:
- Radiation safety is a complex and important topic. The Radiation Protection Group provides several types of work authorizations for work with radioactive materials or sources of prompt radiation. If you plan to work with radiation, contact the Health Physicist assigned to your building to find out what type of authorization you need.
- Hot Work Permits are issued by the LBNL Fire Marshal’s office for work with sources of ignition. Hot work is subject to near-real-time suspension for reasons such as maintenance of building fire alarm and sprinkler systems, or weather conditions that pose unusually high wildlands-fire danger. These situations are communicated to permitholders and to appropriate wider audiences.
- Penetration Permits are issued by the Facilities Division for work that requires penetrating a structural surface (wall, floor, ceiling) or the ground, where there may be hidden utilities.
For Many Kinds of Work, Two’s Company — One’s Disallowed
People at the Laboratory (direct employees or otherwise) are not allowed to work alone in certain situations. These situations are when, despite proper mitigations, the hazards of their work could incapacitate them to such a degree that they cannot “self-rescue” themselves or activate emergency services. The policy is not meant to refer to ordinary activities similar to those commonly performed by the general public. If in doubt, ask your Work Planning and Control work authorization lead.
LBNL has recorded 6 electrical shocks since 2012 — four of them in science divisions. There have also been 3 instances of cutting live wires and 5 instances of leaving live electrical panels or equipment open. All of these incidents could have been prevented. Developing these six habits will help prevent shock hazards:
- If you are not a Qualified Electrical Worker, do not perform electrical work.
- If equipment appears to be unsafe or you are not sure whether it is safe, don’t use it. Report unsafe equipment to your supervisor.
- Plan your work. Identify the hazards and ensure the controls are in place.
- Take care of each other. Help your co-workers identify and correct unsafe behavior or conditions.
- For Qualified Electrical Workers, practice Lockout/Tagout and Test Before Touch.
- For Qualified Electrical Workers, determine approach boundaries and control access to the area to prevent exposure of other people to electrical hazards.
To help both Qualified Electrical Workers and their customers, LBNL has an Electrical Safety website. If in doubt about the risks of the work you have in mind and whether a Qualified Electrical Worker must perform it, consult your division’s Electrical Safety Advocates. In ATAP, the Electrical Safety Advocate is PMThomas@lbl.gov, x6098.
Guidance and Assistance are Just a Call Away
ATAP has central and program-specific safety people who are always glad to help. If you don’t know where to start, Division Safety Coordinator Pat Thomas can always advise.