About PPPL ESH&S
The Environment, Safety, Health, & Security Department provides safety oversight and assistance for the wide variety of plasma and fusion research projects undertaken at the Laboratory as well as stewardship for the environment and our property and assets. The department is comprised of four divisions: Environmental Services, Safety, Health Physics, and Site Protection.
The Environmental Services Division provides environmental compliance, waste management and sustainability support programs to the Laboratory. Our environmental professionals support the Laboratory’s experiments and operations through the management of hazardous, radioactive and medical waste; environmental permitting, monitoring and reporting; environmental remediation and emergency response; and sustainability program support. ESD collaborates with researchers from Princeton University and other institutions on sustainability research and technology demonstration projects. ESD also manages the Laboratory’s ISO-14001 certified Environmental Management System (EMS).
The Safety Division collaborates with workers across every function of the Laboratory to ensure their safety, assist with compliance, and support the mission. Industrial hygiene and electrical safety specialists provide PPPL staff members with on-the-spot resources for inspections, consultations, and code or regulatory clarifications. Division members offer employee training across a wide spectrum of subjects including general hazard awareness, confined space entry, personal protective equipment (PPE), laser safety, lead safety, respiratory and hearing protection, high static magnetic fields, and more. Safety professionals conduct air and noise sampling and monitoring, review chemicals purchased or brought on site to ensure safe usage, inspect electrical installations, and conduct ergonomic evaluations. The Safety Division oversees Laboratory experiments, shop work, and construction projects, assisting workers with Job Hazard Analyses and conducting pre-job briefs and safety reviews. They also conduct in-house respirator and dust mask fit testing to safeguard PPPL’s Emergency Services Officers, hazardous waste removal technicians, and workers involved with welding or exposure to hazardous substances.
The Health Physics Division provides expertise in the safe use of radioactive materials, ensuring compliance with federal regulation 10CFR835, which dictates how PPPL must handle radioactive materials and the requirements that must be met to keep workers and the public safe from radiation hazards at the Laboratory. Health Physics support is essential for workers whose jobs involve working with radioactive materials, radiation producing machines, or working inside any radiation area at PPPL. Worker safety efforts include individual job coverage and support, the use of Radiation Work Permits (RWPs), which describe the radiological hazards for the workers and dictate the necessary precautions they must take, as well as personnel dosimetry, internal dose monitoring, area monitoring, and radon monitoring. This division procures and maintains all radioactive materials on site that are used for calibrations and research work, monitors and regulates the use of energized equipment such as X-Ray sources, and maintains the Laboratory's Nuclear Materials Safeguards Program, which tracks and accounts for all DOE-owned accountable nuclear material used at PPPL. In addition to safeguarding the staff and its radiological assets, the Health Physics Division conducts rigorous monitoring to ensure radioactive materials in liquid effluent and air emissions meet strict regulatory standards.
The Site Protection Division provides comprehensive protection for PPPL’s people and property. Emergency Services Officers serve in three capacities: as security personnel, emergency medical treatment (EMT) responders, and firefighters requiring a breadth of knowledge spanning the Laboratory’s many diverse experiments and the chemical, fire, equipment, or radiation hazards applicable to each. This division issues permits and carries out fire watches for open flame and hot work. The division conducts round-the-clock surveillance electronically and by patrol. PPPL maintains a reciprocal relationship with Plainsboro Township, offering mutual aid in firefighting and EMT efforts. The Site Protection Division coordinates site access for both domestic and foreign visitors and assignees and provides crowd management services for Laboratory events such as the popular Science on Saturday program. Far from merely providing oversight, Site Protection personnel engage PPPL workers through realistic annual site-wide emergency training exercises and offer practical training such as how to properly use fire extinguishers.
Each employee, student, and subcontractor who works on site is an integral part of our safety program as we fulfill our responsibilities and commitments to each other, the University, DOE, and the public.
Safety Information Exchange
Safety is integrated into everything we do at PPPL, and we share information in a variety of ways. Our Safety Manual provides guidance in the application of safety regulations, guidelines, and best practices to our everyday work. Each employee is given hazard awareness training, which is one in a range of safety training classes available to workers, while our Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) form is a frequently used tool in analyzing job-specific hazards and identifying methods of mitigation. We review proposed projects in their earliest stages for environmental and safety impacts in order to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).
Incoming graduate students attend a seminar indoctrinating them into PPPL’s safety culture. The seminar includes classroom sessions and tours, during which students meet with the safety professionals, subject matter experts, researchers, and technicians who will guide and support their work.
Employees and students alike participate in regular safety forums, Lab-wide events that provide updates on our safety program and engage attendees with breakout sessions focused on problem solving and discussion. Small group safety meetings provide an opportunity to talk about issues relevant to a specific work group. Workers also have access to our in-house “SafetyWiki,” a catalog of plain-language policy information boiled down to what workers need to know to complete their work safely and comply with our procedures.
The ESH&S Department is always available to staff, students, and subcontractors for consultation and collaboration. Safety information is communicated daily, and in many ways, throughout PPPL. Safety is a vital component of our culture and an indispensible foundation for making fusion a practical reality.
ES&H Executive Board
The ES&H Executive Board, comprised of PPPL management, is the highest level policy and review committee for PPPL’s environment, safety, and health functions, and is comprised of several subcommittees, allowing for subject matter experts and workers alike to influence PPPL’s safety programs and culture.
- ALARA Committee – Title 10 Code of Federal Regulations Part 835 (10CFR835) places heavy emphasis on the requirement to ensure that radiological exposures resulting from DOE-sponsored activities are as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). This subcommittee makes recommendations to the ES&H Executive Board to improve progress toward minimizing radiation exposure and radiological releases. It evaluates activities such as construction and design of facilities and systems, planned major modifications or work activities, as well as experimental test plans for radiological exposure, waste and release minimization. The committee receives the results of all radiological control reviews and audits, both internal and external, and reviews the overall conduct of the PPPL Radiological Control Program
- Environmental Review Committee - This subcommittee advises the ES&H Executive Board, Director and/or Deputy Directors of possible environmental issues that may affect PPPL. This subcommittee provides input on the development, implementation, effectiveness, and continuous improvement of PPPL’s Environmental Management System (EMS) in accordance with ISO14001. It also provides review and input on the annual Lab-wide environmental performance goals and targets, ES&H Directives, Laboratory-wide environmental manuals, plans, and procedures, and Draft Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements. The committee keeps aware of any projects that have potential environmental impacts (favorable or unfavorable).
- Lithium Experts Committee – This subcommittee is responsible for advising the ES&H Executive Board on any safety aspects involved in PPPL experiments and overall fusion energy development using lithium. It provides expertise for reviewing safety aspects of PPPL lithium activities, for evaluating improved approaches for safe lithium handling, reviews the safety aspects of proposed new experiments using lithium and significant modifications to existing lithium experiments, and promotes the development of improved approaches to lithium handling.
- Safety Champions Committee – This subcommittee provides worker representation to the ES&H Executive Board. Members represent a cross-section of the Laboratory, with an ES&H Executive Board management representative (or “champion”), and offer a sounding board for worker concerns while also serving as a resource for Laboratory management.
- Safety Review Committee – This subcommittee is responsible for evaluating safety-related data and information, including injury and illness reports, for trends and to determine what areas need attention; supporting communications efforts with regard to safety-related information; supporting Lab-wide safety forums or safety-related events; reviewing information on lessons learned for possible application to the Lab and aiding in determining follow-up actions; reviewing and approving plans, manuals, procedures and ES&H Directives that affect Laboratory wide safety issues; and reviewing and approving new or revised Project Safety Assessment Documents (SADs) & Hazard Analysis Reports. The Electrical Safety Subcommittee reports to the SRC.