Safety is a priority for CERN. The dedicated Safety Policy spans all areas of occupational health and safety, including environmental protection and the safe operation of CERN’s facilities. Continuous exchanges with similar research infrastructures on best practices and techniques ensure that we maintain the highest standards. From 25 to 28 October, more than 100 people from CERN and other research institutes from around the world gathered in the Globe of Science and Innovation at CERN for a key conference on health and safety matters: the International Technical Safety Forum (ITSF).
The ITSF is a forum for exchanging state-of-the art ideas, processes, procedures and technologies in personnel, environmental and equipment safety from a variety of high-energy physics (HEP), synchrotron and other research laboratories.
Ralf Trant, of CERN’s TE department, attended the ITSF for the first time in 2003, the fourth meeting of the Forum, which first met at CERN in spring 1998. “In its 25-year existence, the ITSF has evolved with the times, all the while increasing its attractiveness as a forum for experts to share their knowledge, experience and challenges. Its scope has broadened from HEP to a wider range of disciplines and participating institutes, in Europe and beyond, with Asian labs joining in addition to the American institutes that have been involved since the beginning.”
Benoît Delille, the Head of CERN’s HSE unit, opened the event, noting: “For colleagues from different institutes who are visiting CERN for the first time, it is an occasion for us to share the values on which this Organization is built, that we are proud of, and also how we make them come to life through the prism of safety.” A first session on environmental protection and sustainability matters saw CERN share its approach to minimising its environmental footprint in key domains, alongside a presentation from ESS on its approach to environmental management in its post-construction phase. The week then unfolded to cover a wide range of topics, with sessions spanning continuous improvements in health and safety, fire safety, equipment certification, incidents and lessons learned, risk assessment and technical risks, and finally new projects and challenges, safety culture and behaviour, and safety training.
Peter Jakobsson, the Head of Environment, Safety, Health & Quality (ESH&Q) at ESS and a member of the ITSF organising committee, chaired the event’s “Incidents and lessons learned” session: “Listening to your colleagues from other research institutes informing about events that have occurred, lessons learned and recent developments in safety assessment is the pure essence of ITSF. We openly share information in different subject safety areas like fire hazards, handling of chemicals, inspection of pressurised equipment, etc. In doing so, we all learn from each other to create a safe work environment for our staff and scientific users: a true sign of the safety culture that we all strive for.”
In addition to a rich programme of presentations, the event also featured an interactive fire workshop, at which participants shared ongoing projects and challenges related to fire safety in particle accelerator facilities. CERN took the floor to share experiences of the FIRIA (Fire-Induced Radiological Integrated Assessment) project, whose objective is to develop a general methodology for assessing the fire-related risks present in CERN’s facilities and provide a collaborative networking forum in which experts working in the fire field can stay connected and updated.
Participants also enjoyed visits of CERN’s installations, complemented by a tour of the Safety Training Centre in Prévessin on the last day. As the event drew to a close, the organiser of this year’s event, Yves Loertscher, the Leader of CERN’s Occupational Health & Safety group reflected: “As occupational health and safety specialists, we’re all working to provide support for people to protect people. This event gave us the possibility to share our knowledge through presentations but also through networking breaks, visits and social events. After a break of almost three years owing to the pandemic, it’s a pleasure to interact directly with peers again and share new ways of thinking and acting in the field of occupational health and safety and environmental protection.”