Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Sarah Wright ()
Communications and External Relations


Truck give-away drives safety to record at ORNL

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Sep. 30, 2008 — An Oak Ridge National Laboratory employee went home with a new truck because craft worker injuries at the Lab are at an all-time low.

Year-end statistics from ORNL's Facilities & Operations Directorate, which is home to the laboratory's bargaining unit work force, show that work-related injuries have dropped 84 percent since 2002. The directorate had 82 recordable injuries in 2002, a number that dropped to 27 in 2007 and only 13 in 2008.

Bargaining unit employees are hourly staff members who work in some of the most accident-prone environments at the lab, said Facilities and Operations Director Herb Debban.

"This year only 12 injuries—25 percent of ORNL's total—came from the bargaining unit group of employees," Debban said. In previous years, craft employees often were the source of a large majority of ORNL's on-the-job accidents.

"Five years ago we set a goal—one that frankly some thought too ambitious--to reduce the laboratory's total number of injuries by 90 percent from the year 2000, when UT-Battelle assumed the contract to manage ORNL. We have met that goal," Debban said.

This year employees had an extra reason to be vigilant against accidents. Not only would they benefit from a safer work environment, but accident-free workers would be eligible for a new Ford F-150 truck. The eventual winner, selected today in a random drawing, was Herbert Hodge.

"Mr. Hodge represents the bargaining unit workers who have posted the best safety record ORNL has ever seen. They have all done a great job paying attention to safety," said Carl Wright, who leads the Atomic Trades and Labor Council at ORNL.

In addition to the drawing for the truck, supervisors of accident-free bargaining unit employee groups were eligible for a drawing for a $5,000 bonus. The winner was Sharon "Sissy" Jenkins of the Campus Support & Instrumentation Division.

Injuries at the laboratory that result in restricted duty or lost time away from work have seen the most dramatic reductions, with both categories now having 95 percent fewer occurrences than in 2002. The number of time away from work accidents was 28 in 2002. This year only one craft worker had an injury that required time away from work. Restricted duty numbers have also declined steadily, from 46 in 2002 to six in 2007 and only two in fiscal year 2008.

"Achieving and maintaining such a dramatic reduction in employee injuries require continuous vigilance on the part of hundreds of employees who perform difficult jobs every day. I am proud of all of our crafts employees for their attention to safety that makes ORNL one of the nation's safest laboratories," said ORNL Director Thom Mason.

Almost 600 craft workers who had no injuries over the course of the year were eligible for the drawing that sent Hodge home in a new truck, following the speed limit, of course.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.