Falling down at ORNL

ornlsign1There’s been much talk this week about the winter weather and how it’s impacted the government’s Oak Ridge operations. In particular, there have been comparisons between Y-12, which has been closed all week (resuming operations on Friday), while Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been open to those employees who could get there.

One reason for caution at Y-12 has been the plant’s recent history of slips, trips and falls with injuries. The icy conditions only added to the concerns.

But it appears that ORNL paid a price for continued operations. Lab spokesman David Keim confirmed that there were 14 reports of staff members or subcontractors falling at the site. About 10 of those required some form of medical treatment, Keim said.

Some union workers at ORNL were particularly upset with conditions, saying they didn’t have a choice of working at home like the scientists and engineers and had to deal with conditions as they were. There also were complaints from workers who didn’t think the lab did enough to counter the icy conditions.

Here’s what Keim said: “We’ve made strenuous efforts to keep things clear. Facilities & Operations staff have stayed overnight at the Guest House so they could be sure roads and walkways were taken care of. With ice and snow like we’ve experienced this week, conditions change and caution is still required, but we’ve responded quickly when unsafe spots are reported.”

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.