The International Technical Safety Forum
The International Technical Safety Forum is a meeting of safety experts from several physics labs in Europe and the US. Since 1998 participants have been meeting every couple of years to discuss common challenges in safety matters. The Forum helps them define best practices and learn from the important lessons learned by others.
The Forum's participants in front of building 40.
This year, the meeting took place at CERN from 12 to 16 April. “This year's meeting covered subjects ranging from communication and training in matters of safety, to cryogenic safety, emergency preparedness and risk analysis”, explains Ralf Trant, head of the CERN Safety Commission and organiser of this year’s Forum. Radiation protection issues are not discussed at the meeting since they involve different expertise.
The goal of the Forum is to allow participants to share experience, learn lessons and acquire specific knowledge in a very open way. Round-table discussions, dedicated time for networking and presentations from all the labs are included in the official programme. “The Forum is much less formal than other meetings because it involves a relatively small community”, says Trant.
“The round-table discussions are where we discuss our problems and our concerns”, adds Keith Schuh from Fermilab. “We discuss our experiences openly, and honestly, without hiding anything. These are the moments where we learn the most”. The honest sharing of experience is what allows participants to avoid making the same mistakes and also to discuss the best solutions to a common problem. “From the point of view of safety, we are all the same lab, we all face very similar challenges and have to find solutions to similar problems”, says Keith Schuh. He adds: “I remember when, a few years ago, Bill Nuttal, a chemical safety expert from CERN who is now retired, demonstrated at the Forum that some gas mixtures used in the detectors were explosive. Nobody had thought this was the case beforehand but after his demonstration we went back to our labs and introduced the safety procedures for explosive gases for our detectors that were using the same gases!”
For the time being, the Forum's participants are from Europe and the US only, with none from labs in Asia, etc. If you read this article and are a safety expert from one of these labs, please contact Ralf.Trant@cern.ch
by CERN Bulletin