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Successful Implementation of a Behavioral Safety Program at the Los Alamos National Laboratory Plutonium Facility

[+] Author Affiliations
J. J. Balkey, J. F. Kleinsteuber, R. E. Wieneke

Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM

Paper No. ICEM2003-4592, pp. 685-691; 7 pages
  • ASME 2003 9th International Conference on Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Remediation
  • 9th ASME International Conference on Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Remediation: Volumes 1, 2, and 3
  • Oxford, England, September 21–25, 2003
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division and Environmental Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-3732-7 | eISBN: 0-7918-3731-9
  • Copyright © 2003 by ASME


Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is one of two design laboratories in the United States Department of Energy (DOE) weapons complex, with over 60 years of experience in handling hazardous and radioactive materials. Actinide research and development are performed in two nuclear facilities. The Plutonium Facility has been in operation since 1978, and the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research (CMR) Facility was built in 1952. The Nuclear Materials Technology (NMT) Division is responsible for operating both facilities in a safe and environmentally sound manner. At these NMT Division nuclear facilities, the primary hazards that are associated with chemicals and radioactive materials are well controlled, with minimal risk to the workforce and the public. Most workforce injuries are physical or ergonomic in nature. In an effort to increase safety awareness and to decrease accidents and incidents, a program focusing on identifying and eliminating unsafe behaviors was initiated. This process is named ATOMICS (for Allowing Timely Observations Measures Increased Commitment to Safety). Workers are trained on how to conduct safety observations of one another and given guidance on specific behaviors to note. Observations are structured to have minimal impact on the workload and are shared by the entire workforce. This program has effectively decreased an already low accident rate and will make long-term sustainability possible. The behavior-based safety process engages the workforce in the implementation and utilization of their own safety initative. The process is based on the simple act of having workers observe other workers and provide feedback on safe and at-risk behaviors. Observations typically take 10 to 15 minutes. Observations are strictly conducted under the conditions that no names are used and no blame is placed. A prospective observer takes 2 days of training on how to perform observations. To date, this behavioral safety program has been effective in further reducing the low accident/injury rate for the division. Most of the division’s workforce has taken observer training, and about half of those trained perform approximately 2500 observations per year on work conducted in NMT Division nuclear facilities.

Copyright © 2003 by ASME
Topics: Safety



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