Safety Observations: How a National Laboratory Uses BBS to Improve Its Emergency Program
- Michael E. Cournoyer (Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)) | Joshua J. Miller (Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)) | Darril C. Stafford (Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)) | Richard A. Norman (Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL))
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- October 2012
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 62 - 68
- 2012. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 0 in the last 30 days
- 27 since 2007
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Data generated from a behavior-based safety (BBS) observation program sup-ports an emergency planning and preparedness program (EPPP) by establishing a process that methodically searches for and eliminates the causes of flawed defenses in emergency operations. Results presented in this article are pivotal to the ultimate focus of this program, which is to minimize emergency operational events. By employing control charts, trends can be identified in safety observation data. This increases technical knowledge and augments operational safety.
Work at a nuclear research laboratory involves chemical and metallurgical operations with nuclear materials. Engineered barriers provide the most effective protection from radioactive materials and have been incorporated through architectural and structural design. Engineering controls at a nuclear research laboratory include differential pressure zones, high-efficiency particulate air filtration, glove-boxes and radiation shielding (Cournoyer, Gallegos & Wilburn, 2011). Although barriers are in place, they can fail (DOE, Office of Environment, Safety and Health, 2006).
A nuclear research laboratory’s EPPP augments these passive safety features by minimizing or mitigating the consequences of an emergency incident in order to protect workers, the public and the environment. A key element of the EPPP is to consider measures that lower the risk of emergency operations. The implementation of a BBS observation program focusing on identifying and eliminating at-risk behaviors is one of these measures.
BBS is the process of observing a worker’s safe or at-risk behaviors. Observations provide direct, measurable information on employees’ safe work practices. Safety observations then take BBS a step further by incorporating one additional element: conditions. The goal is that long-term improvement will be sustained by continuously reinforcing safe behaviors, identifying and eliminating potential organizational weaknesses, and building robust and redundant defenses within systems.
A detailed account of this approach to glovebox operations has been described previously (Cournoyer, Kleinsteuber, Garcia, et al., 2011). A glove-box is a sealed container that, when coupled with an adequate negative-pressure gradient, provides primary confinement. Built into the sides of the glovebox are gloves arranged in such a way that the user can place his/her hands into the gloves and perform tasks inside the box without breaking containment. Glovebox operations are any tasks in which a worker places his/her hands inside the glovebox gloves.
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