The new Safety Manager at the ALS, Scott Taylor, is not so new. Taylor has been working at Berkeley Lab for 30 years now, starting in his early days as a biofuels researcher working with Melvin Calvin. Taylor isn’t new to safety either—he has been on the Lab’s Safety Review Committee since 1992 and the division safety coordinator for Life Sciences for the past six years.
Taylor’s first foray into safety at the Lab was back in 1990, when he was working in research medicine at Donner Lab. DOE safety inspections were announced and Taylor, being the youngest member of the team, was tasked with making sure his building was ready for safety inspections. There weren’t division safety coordinators back in those days, Taylor explains.
Joining the ALS reminds Taylor of his early days at the Lab, when he felt energized by the eclectic mix of coworkers from various disciplines all working toward a common goal.
“I liked those experiences because they make you realize that there are so many things you don’t know and you’re outside of your normal comfort zone,” says Taylor. “And that really defines the ALS—there’s a huge breadth of research interest and so the safety scope is also enormous.”
Taylor sees many safety challenges that are unique to the ALS, and many hazards are so intricately intertwined that the mere level of complexity itself is a challenge. “We have such a huge influx of users from all over the world,” says Taylor. “And the DOE has a safety culture that’s probably different from anywhere else in the world, with a higher degree of compliance and a reduced acceptance of risk.”
He’s been inspired by how welcoming everyone at the ALS has been, and comforted in the knowledge that his friend and previous ALS safety manager, Jim Floyd, is just a phone call away.
Taylor sees a couple of big projects taking main stage in the near future, the first being a new work planning and control system that will modify and streamline the work authorization process. He’s been intimately involved in the creation of the system as project manager for the past four years, which will definitely be an advantage when it comes to implementation, he says.
The second major focus, as Taylor sees it, will be the electrical safety changes coming to the Lab. “We’ll have to learn how to apply those so that we are working safely, but still maintaining our high level of scientific productivity.”