Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

The Laboratory’s commitment to safety

New initiatives being implemented
June 11, 2019
Thom Mason speaking at a recent community event.

Thom Mason speaking at a recent community event.

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"Our priority is safety and making improvements in our safety culture."- Thom Mason, director of the Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory’s national security mission is a crucial one that requires complex, and potentially hazardous work, but Laboratory Director Thom Mason is clear that doing this work safely is of paramount importance.

“Our priority is safety and making improvements in our safety culture,” says Mason. “This is critical to me, my management team and staff, our federal customer, and the community where we operate and live.”

Since taking over management of the Laboratory in November 2018, Triad National Security has been implementing a range of safety initiatives.

Building on a record of safety

Despite the complexity of the work done at the Lab, it is already a very safe place.

In 2018, eight injuries at the Laboratory resulted in days away from work and two involved a job transfer or restrictions. In addition, there were 62 other recordable, but less serious, cases. While these numbers might sound high, the Laboratory has more than 12,000 employees working more than 20 million hours per year, making these statistics much lower than industry averages.

In addition, the Lab’s average number of reportable accidents (“total reportable cases”) is almost half the industry standard, compared to other organizations or businesses that provide similar services: scientific research and development, facility support and remediation, and other waste management services.

In January and February of this year, the Laboratory had roughly one reportable case per month for every 160,000 hours worked. The industry rate is almost double that with 1.96 total reportable cases per month.

Training initiative

To improve this record further, the Laboratory has embarked on a comprehensive, long-term training initiative, revamping its safety training requirements and processes to ensure that employees get what they need to do the right thing to protect themselves and their co-workers.

Nearly half of all first-line supervisors have already received week-long, off-site intensive safety training. Triad’s plan is to make sure that all front line supervisors in hazardous operations receive this state-of-the-art training by the end of its first year on the job.

The Laboratory recently concluded a project to clean up legacy contamination on low-voltage electrical breakers across the facility to better protect electrical workers. The project ended three weeks ahead of schedule, with zero injuries.

The Lab is also including safety performance metrics in its construction contracts so that safety performance is now tied to contract compensation.

“Change does not happen overnight,” says Mason. “But we are already seeing progress and are committed to further accelerating that progress.”