Advanced Photon Source

An Office of Science National User Facility

The Director's Corner, from Stephen Streiffer


Stephen Streiffer,  Director, Advanced Photon Source, Associate Laboratory Director, Photon Sciences.These Director’s Corners are usually an opportunity to share good news (and there is plenty of that; see Stuart Henderson’s APS Upgrade report for news on BESAC prioritization of the Upgrade). But this time I would like to concentrate on safety, because nothing – nothing – is more important than the safety of our users, resident users, and staff. Going all the way back to the days of construction, the APS has had an enviable safety record. That is something we’ve all been thankful for. We are a family, and when one of us is injured, we all feel it. Tom Barkalow, our PSC ESH/QA Administrator, points out that there have been 12 injuries at the APS in the first seven months of fiscal year 2016. Those 12 injuries break down as follows: two cuts, two contusions, two fractures, and six sprains. One might be tempted to say (under one’s breath), “Well, fractures are bad; but cuts, contusions, hey, these things happen.” But one of the sprains cost one of our colleagues a good deal of pain and 17 lost days of work. One of the contusions cost that person 14 days of work, and could have been much more serious. It is a warning to all of us that we must make a concerted effort to keep ourselves, and each other, safe whether here, or at home, or on the road. Safety is a cooperative endeavor. We are all responsible for our own safety and the safety of our co-workers, and management is responsible for making every effort to provide a safe working environment, and the tools we need to be safe.

As a first step toward that end, we are putting in place a plan to engage APS employees in addressing safety concerns. We will focus on four main topics:

  • Share the Mission by reminding all of you what the APS purpose and goals are while we make it clear that each individual’s input has an impact, including developing avenues for more employee involvement and feedback.
  • Minimize Routine, because repetition can result in a lack of safety focus and can stymie initiative. It’s possible that group Leaders may change or reassign some tasks to add variety to an employee’s job and to expand the general employee knowledge base: “New eyes, new ideas.”
  • Encourage Observation, meaning we all must take a moment to observe the actions of others as they work, thus raising our awareness as well as the awareness of our colleagues. Ask yourself and your co-workers: “Can we do this better, can we do this more safely?”
  • Go to the Source by engaging everyone to mine the wealth of information we have about our jobs; input from those doing the tasks is the best source of innovative information.

We will expand our renewed vigilance to include our users as the program evolves, because user safety is of paramount importance to us. Thank you all for joining me in a rejuvenation of the unwavering commitment to safety for which the APS has been known. I am always open to any suggestions you might have on this subject. Send them to me at

Stephen Streiffer

Published Date: