ES&H Tips of
the Week Archive

Every Monday, a new Tip of the Week appears in Fermilab Today, Fermilab's daily email publication for employees, users and subscribers.

ES&H Tips of the Week Archive – 2012

 December 17, 2012
 Save your sole from plantar fasciitis

If you've ever had pain in the mid-sole of your foot on those first few steps out of bed or after getting out of a chair, then you're acquainted with your plantar fascia. This tendon complex, along with the deeper spring ligament, serves as the tension cable along your foot's sole that keeps the foot arched and provides shock absorption.

There are several ways to keep this critical tissue happy:

 December 10, 2012
 Work process controls

The Office of Quality and Best Practices is pleased to report the successful completion of Fermilab's work processes assessment.

Between April and September 2012, OQBP, along with division/section/center quality assurance representatives (D/S/C QARs), completed a series of work processes assessments. They evaluated the implementation and effectiveness of quality assurance controls for work processes in three Fermilab sections. Assessment teams comprising D/S/C QARs and OQBP quality assurance engineers conducted the assessments by interview, observation and examination of documents, databases, records and Individual Training Needs Assessments. The assessment teams reviewed nuclear materials control and accountability (ESH&Q), receiving (BSS) and compensation (FI) work processes to determine compliance with quality requirements and effectiveness of implementation.

 December 03, 2012
 Recycling to reduce waste

Since the advent of the modern-day environmental movement in the United States in the late 1960s, recycling has arguably been the single most identifiable component of a sustainable strategy. The idea of using materials over and over instead of extracting more limited resources appeals to our common sense and is easy to understand and implement. Today, nearly everyone has access to curbside recycling services or, at least, a centralized collection point for waste that can be recycled or reused. In the latest statistics compiled by the EPA, Americans recycle about 34 percent of the waste we generate, and an additional 11 percent is burned for energy production. That leaves 55 percent that still winds up in landfills—an increasingly expensive and damaging practice.

Over the last 20 years or so, we at Fermilab have made great strides in managing and minimizing waste, partly through a concerted recycling effort.

 November 26, 2012
 The right stuff in dealing with the white stuff

Snow can be beautiful but we generally don't want it to linger on our sidewalks and driveways. At the same time, removing it presents challenges, including ones for our hearts and backs. Heavy snowfall appears to correlate with an increase in the incidence of heart attacks and back strains.

Medical science backs up, to a degree, the risk of a heart attack while shoveling snow.

People often try to clear snow shortly after waking, when their body chemicals are most prone to heart attacks.

 November 19, 2012
 Computer Winter weather: road closures and parking restrictions

Green cones will begin popping up in the parking lots—a sure sign that Fermilab is preparing for winter. It's time to take more care walking in parking lots and in choosing where to park. Just like last year, there will be some road closures.

Starting with the first significant snowfall, some roads on site will be closed all winter. They will reopen some time in late March, depending on weather forecasts. With the road closures, crews can maintain the same level of service in critical areas and extend the life of older roads. North Eola Road from Batavia Road to Road C East and Wilson Road from McChesney to Road B will be closed for the winter. In addition, Main Ring Road will be closed to all traffic except emergency and service vehicles. Limited snow removal service in the Main Ring will provide access only for these vehicles. Service levels and access will not change in the F4/AZero and CZero areas.

Parking during the winter can also be more complicated. Every winter, FESS Roads and Grounds crews clear more than 85 parking lots across the Fermilab site.

In an effort to streamline parking lot plowing operations without jeopardizing safety, FESS Roads and Grounds, in cooperation with building managers, mark unneeded areas of about 25 parking lots that will not receive snow removal service. These areas are highlighted with lime-green safety cones.

 November 12, 2012
 Computer Caution with laser pointers

There are potentially significant hazards associated with laser pointers. High-power laser pointers can cause permanent eye damage in less time than it takes to blink. To avoid injuries, laser pointers should have a power output of 5 milliwatts or less.

Unfortunately, anyone can buy a laser that exceeds 5 mW thinking he or she is getting an FDA-compliant laser pointer. The higher-power devices look like, are marketed as and can be priced like laser pointers. It is easy to find a 50-mW green-laser pointer on the internet for $10.

 November 05, 2012
 Computer Security Awareness Day

Tomorrow, Nov. 6, is Fermilab's annual Computer Security Awareness Day. This day combines classroom presentations of all the ITNA required security and privacy classes as well as specialized presentations about security topics of current interest.

The morning will be devoted to the required ITNA classes. The three computer security classes in WH One West

 October 29, 2012
 Engineering quality at Fermilab

The Office of Quality and Best Practices is pleased to report that Fermilab's site-wide design and engineering assessment is now complete.

Between June 2012 and September 2012, OQBP, along with Division/Section/Center (D/S/C) quality assurance representatives, completed a series of design and engineering assessments, two of which were a combined effort with quality assurance staff from the DOE Chicago office. The assessments evaluated the implementation and effectiveness of quality assurance controls for design and engineering in several divisions and sections. Representatives conducted the assessments by interview, review of documentation and observation of project activity.

 October 22, 2012
 Practice proper hand safety: wear protective gloves

Hand injuries are always a concern as we work at home and at Fermilab. We use our hands frequently and thus have many opportunities to pinch, cut, burn or crush them inadvertently. Often these types of injuries can be avoided by wearing proper gloves.

For certain assignments, one may need specialized gloves to be adequately protected without adversely affecting the work process. For example, for tasks that require making fine adjustments, people often remove their gloves to get the job done, but this has resulted in worker injuries. A solution would be to wear tight-fitting mechanic's gloves, which are now available in the Fermilab stock room.

 October 15, 2012
 Preventing infection by bloodborne pathogens

I was working in Silicon Valley in the 1970s and '80s when employers were coming to grips with the then swelling number of reported HIV-AIDS infections in the community. I attended a conference where, to my initial surprise, San Francisco-based Levi Strauss announced their "no-policy policy" on bloodborne pathogens (BBP) and AIDS. (Think of the sharp objects involved in denim jean manufacturing.) With this policy, the company sent the message that if you treat all blood and body fluid as potentially infectious, you don't routinely have to worry about the source.

I found this approach to be a sound practice.

 October 08, 2012
 Rare wildlife in our neighborhood

Recently, possible cougar sightings in the northeastern Illinois area have made the news. It seems each year there are reports of unusual wildlife in the area. Although many of the sightings are cases of mistaken identity, instances of cougars or other wildlife species not normally seen in our area are not that uncommon. In 2008, a cougar was killed in an urban area of Chicago after police and animal control officials failed to capture it alive. Although the normal range for cougars is in the far west of the country, isolated sightings occur with some regularity as far east as Indiana.

 October 01, 2012
 Lessons learned

Winston Churchill once said, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Fortunately, at Fermilab we have a Lessons Learned Program that makes it easy for employees to learn from others’ experiences, thus helping them avoid repeating problems others may have encountered. Administered by the Office of Quality and Best Practices, this program gathers lessons learned throughout Fermilab, other DOE laboratories and industry into a searchable, centralized database.

The Fermilab Lessons Learned Database is hosted on the ES&H website and is available to all Fermilab employees, users and contractors.

 September 24, 2012
 Managing web content

Fermilab takes great pride in presenting the laboratory and our scientific results to the public. Much of this is accomplished through publicly viewable Web pages. At the same time, some Fermilab Web pages are meant only for internal communication or to be accessed only by certain groups.

The cybersecurity team is in the process of modifying several cybersecurity practices to provide additional control over what is publicly viewable on the web.

 September 17, 2012
 Conserving water for the planet

The water level in Lake Michigan is down a foot, the Colorado River peters out before it even reaches the Gulf of California, and the supply of clean drinking water around the world is shrinking, even as population levels increase. Many ecologists consider the lack of drinking water the number one future global environmental and public health problem. In addition to the problem of increased water pollution, warmer climate reduces the amount of liquid water on the planet, further decreasing the available amount of this critical resource. Since getting additional water is costly and/or environmentally damaging, an important strategy for addressing this problem is water conservation.

 September 10, 2012
 Avoiding the flu

The influenza virus, often referred to as the flu, can take you out of action for about three to five days with unpleasant symptoms such as coughing, fever and fatigue. If you have other health issues, it can even land you in the hospital.

Flu spreads on respiratory droplets and most effectively through the air but can also be transmitted via "high-touch" objects such as doorknobs, phones and tabletops. Hand-spread viruses find homes in the nose, mouth or eye mucosal surfaces (the wet area surrounding these areas).

 August 27, 2012
 Eat, drink and be healthy

It's late summer and our thoughts turn toward Labor Day, cooler weather and perhaps enjoying the fall days with a picnic. Here are some food safety tips that are good for any time of year.

Cloth grocery bags, though earth-friendly, may harbor some health risks if not taken care of properly. Two years ago, a mystery illness later discovered to be Norovirus sickened an Oregon soccer team. The link was a cloth grocery bag that unfortunately served as a transport medium for the virus. A combined University of Arizona and Loma Linda investigation demonstrated both viruses and bacteria can thrive on used cloth grocery bags. (Disclosure: There was American Chemistry Council funding behind this later study.)

 August 20, 2012
 Our children depend on our safe driving

Many child pedestrians are killed in the streets or sidewalks of their school zones because of the reckless and irresponsible behaviors of motorists. Drivers need to remember the unpredictability of children and be on the lookout for all pedestrians. It is difficult for children to see motorists and for motorists to see them. Children also have difficulty judging a car's speed and distance, and they often think that if they can see the driver, the driver can see them.

As the school season begins, keep in mind these school zone motorist safety tips:

 August 13, 2012
 Suspect and counterfeit items: Know your product

We all know about the risks of suspect or counterfeit items (S/CI) in our personal and professional purchases, such as knock-off watches, contaminated pet food, bolts and electronic components, so we avoid questionable suppliers. We've heard stories of catastrophic equipment failures and pharmaceutical poisonings resulting from the use of S/CI.

Depending solely on the reputation of your supplier or avoiding lowest-cost sources isn't always enough. Many suppliers themselves are fooled and may unknowingly be supplying S/CI. Counterfeiters are engaged in fraud and stay in business by finding novel ways of inserting their products into high-quality supply chains. But with S/CI making their way into reputable supply chains, what's the best way to avoid these dangerous items?

 August 06, 2012
 Staying ahead of the bad guys

Fermilab's employees are a cyber-savvy bunch, and maybe you are more savvy than most. You are very careful in following secure procedures using your computer. You avoid clicking on links in email or visiting suspicious websites. You never open attachments from unknown origins. You make sure your systems are patched, your software is up to date and unneeded services are turned off.

And yet you still may get infected with malware.

Why? Because the bad guys are getting smarter all the time, discovering new bugs and security holes in software and developing new methods to exploit these vulnerabilities.

 July 30, 2012
 The need for transparency in medical studies

I am often asked about new medical procedures and devices. As a director of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, I was glad to have the opportunity to attend a presentation related to this topic at the society's April conference. Neurosurgeon Charles D. Rosen gave the presentation. He explained that he often sees patients for "salvage" procedures after they've undergone a prior procedure. Sometimes the initial surgery or surgeries did not resolve a problem or, worse, they introduced new problems. This prompted Dr. Rosen to delve deeper into the research behind the drugs and other products that physicians used in the surgeries.

 July 23, 2012
 Dead tree ecology

If there is one fundamental principle underlying all of ecology, it may be that no niche goes unused. Essentially everywhere we look in nature, we find plants and animals exploiting the available resources and energy to make a living. One common feature of all forest environments is some number of standing dead trees, often called snags. While they may not be part of our concept of a healthy forest, they are a bonanza for wildlife and provide hundreds of organisms with comfortable habitat.

A tree can die in any of a number of ways, including pest infestation, disease, lightning strikes or windstorms. When they do, almost instantly, swarms of plants, fungi and invertebrates begin to colonize the new habitat. Fungi, mosses, insects, spiders, millipedes, centipedes and worms begin to invade the dead tissue, processing it for their own use, facilitating the decomposition and recycling of the tree. As this initial process proceeds, dozens of species of birds and mammals find the first wave of exploiters to be attractive food sources.

 July 16, 2012
 Construction season safety - drive carefully and watch out for those yellowjackets

Building construction is prevalent at the laboratory this summer, and it can pose a danger for those on the road.

It is particularly important to slow down and pay close attention while driving. Motorists, bikers and pedestrians must pay attention to warning signs, detour signs and flaggers. Dangers still exist in work zones even if workers are not present.

 July 09, 2012
 Come to the dark side, we have cookies

While Hollywood and the media depict computer hacking with special effects and magical tools, success is often gained with nothing more than a web browser, the 'telnet' command and some analytical thinking.

Every day, the Fermilab Computer Security Team is constantly scanning your computer for various vulnerabilities. Normally these scans are quite unobtrusive, looking only for serious vulnerabilities or misconfigurations. Occasionally, however, members of CST transfer over to the "dark side" and play the role of a hacker. During this role reversal, CST launches aggressive scans against Fermilab computers, looking for holes and deficiencies to exploit or to retrieve information that should not be available, or to obtain access to run arbitrary programs on the target computer. The team will not actually hack into any lab computers, but it will discover computing systems that could be breached by an outsider attacker.

 July 02, 2012
 Be safe this Independence Day

Every year in the United States, we celebrate the Fourth of July with community parades, picnics, barbecues, and fireworks - the things of which happy memories are made. But sadly, Independence Day also brings on tragic events resulting from the use of fireworks.

One reason injuries occur is that, in spite of federal regulations and varying state prohibitions, many types of fireworks are still accessible to the public. Distributors often sell fireworks near state borders, where laws prohibiting sales on either side of the border may differ.

 June 25, 2012
 Top off your fluid level to beat the heat

It's summer in Chicago, and that means heat and humidity are high. The conditions can pose a challenge if you're trying to work a jog or bike ride into your day. By keeping yourself well hydrated, you can keep up a healthy exercise regimen, even in the hot summer months.

The body typically cools itself by increasing surface blood flow or, on a windless day, by relying mainly on evaporation. Add humidity to the summer heat, and our body's air conditioning system is severely taxed.

 June 18, 2012
 Use your head: Take care of your hard hat

Is it time for a new hard hat? There is a common misconception that hard hats last forever. OSHA does not specify the service life of a hard hat, nor is there any standard expiration time frame for hard hats. The hard hat life span varies depending on its use and the conditions under which it's worn.

As a general guideline, most hard hat manufacturers recommend replacing them every five years regardless of outside appearance. If you work under extreme conditions such as exposure to high temperatures, chemicals or long periods in sunlight, hard hats should be replaced after two years of use. In addition, some manufacturers even recommend replacing the suspension in your hard hat every 12 months.

 June 04, 2012
 Don't feed the animals

It has been a long, cold winter. It's easy to fall prey to the pleading, saucer-sized eyes of a coyote or raccoon looking for a snack.

You think: "It's just one crumb. It can't hurt."


Feeding animals disrupts their natural food cycle and encourages them to lose their fear of people and vehicles.

 May 21, 2012
 The computer security team and you

With some recent reorganization and the addition of a new member, this is an appropriate time to remind people of the function the Computer Security Team serves and the methods by which you might interact with them.

Fermilab's chief information security officer is Irwin Gaines. Reporting to him are two groups dealing with Compliance, Audits and Oversight (CAO) and Collaborative Security Research (CSR). CAO is led by Joe Klemencic, who is also the lab information security system officer (ISSO), while CSR is led by Mine Altunay, who is also the open science grid security officer. Members of the security team are Wayne Baisley, Ron Cudzewicz, Art Lee, Tim Rupp and Greg Cisko, who has recently joined the team.

 May 14, 2012
 MRSA: scary news item is controllable with prevention

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (or MRSA, pronounced "mersa") was once solely a threat to patients in medical facilities. Now, however, it is increasingly also a community-acquired infection. Sometimes dubbed a "superbug," this bacterium resists a number of antibiotics and, for reasons that are not entirely clear, can become deep-seated in otherwise healthy individuals. Fortunately, the spread of infection can be curbed by some simple techniques.

The impact of MRSA on the population is steadily increasing. A study based on Cook County health center activity documented a four-fold rise in cases over a seven-year period.

 May 07, 2012
 The ecological value of Fermilab's wetlands

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, May is American Wetlands Month. Like many natural ecosystems, American wetlands have suffered because of the spread of agriculture and other development. In Illinois, less than half of pre-settlement wetlands remain, and many of the remnants are severely degraded by isolation and contamination. Wetland types vary among open-water marshes, wet woodlands and seasonally dry sedge meadows.

Ecologists often speak of the services that various ecosystems provide for our human society. Wetlands provide many of these services. They retain storm water and prevent downstream flooding while removing chemical contaminants, supply large amounts of storage for water, create habitat for all sorts of fauna and provide an array of recreational opportunities.

 Apr. 23, 2012
 National Work Zone Awareness Week - April 23-27

Most pedestrians walk familiar routes day in and day out, whether it's between offices or to a favorite lunch spot. This familiarity can cause problems for inattentive pedestrians when they find themselves with a construction work zone in their path.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation-Federal Highway Administration, hundreds of Americans are killed every year in work zone crashes. We can avoid these needless tragedies by following some simple guidelines.

 Apr. 16, 2012
 Computer incident response

For more than 15 years, the Fermilab Computer Incident Response Team handled cyber security incidents. This team, comprised of individuals from throughout the laboratory, acted like a volunteer fire department for computers. They brought knowledge of their organizational units to bear on security incidents. The FCIRT acted quickly and decisively to contain incidents, prevent them from spreading widely and learned from them to prevent recurrences.

Several recent trends have made this strategy less effective. IT support consolidation moved most IT support into the Computing Sector; tools needed to understand and analyze incidents became more complex and specialized; and initial notification of many incidents now comes directly to the Computer Security Team through a variety of subscription and formal notification channels.

 Apr. 09, 2012
 Accelerator safety experts meet at Fermilab; update guide

Last month, a group of accelerator safety experts from eight DOE laboratories, two DOE field offices and DOE headquarters gathered at Fermilab to update an important DOE guidance document on accelerator safety.

Environment, safety and health concerns are of utmost importance at DOE accelerator sites. In recognition of this, the DOE has partnered with its laboratories to create standards based on best management practices to safely accomplish the mission of the accelerator laboratories. These safety requirements and guidance documents are specific to the unique characteristics of accelerators, such as high-intensity electromagnetic fields, superconductivity and ionizing radiation.

 Apr. 02, 2012
 Early tick activity this season

The warmer months encourage people to venture into wilderness areas, increasing insect encounters. The Fermilab Medical Office has already seen two employees for tick removal in March, In the northeast U.S., there is fear of an uptick in disease transmission this year due to the synchronization of food source, tick and mouse population. A year of abundant acorns such as last year leads to an explosion of white-foot mice, which can harbor the Lyme disease bacteria that ticks can acquire from a blood meal. Later, ticks can transmit the bacteria to humans.

 Mar. 19, 2012
 Warm weather increases need to track butterfly populations

Spring doesn't officially begin until Tuesday, but we've been enjoying spring-like weather for weeks. Could there be any possible downside to this? Maybe.

Human beings are not particularly sensitive to subtle changes in our environments because we are highly buffered from their effects. If the temperature changes, we can just turn the heat or air conditioning up or down and go about our business. But some species of animals are very susceptible to small changes in their surroundings.

 Mar. 12, 2012
 Spring into cyber safety

Spring is just around the corner. It brings warm weather, with Fermilab employees shedding their winter wear after months of cold. While you recover from the chill, there's a fresh batch of things to think about, from seasonal allergies to sunscreen. Even though the season changes, you still need to protect yourself and those around. This should extend to your computer, as well.

Your computer probably has old software no longer needed or sorely out of date and in need of freshening up. Leaving software installed that is no longer needed, or not keeping it updated to the latest versions, clutters up your hard drive. It also makes it extremely easy for attackers to compromise your computer.

 Mar. 05, 2012
 Speed limits: Don't let warm weather give you a lead foot

The roads are clear, the sun is bright, and the urge to drive a little faster is lurking in the back of our minds. We have our sunglasses on and are flexing our hands in our driving gloves.

But before you hit the accelerator take five seconds and think. Remember that posted speeds on site take into consideration visibility, road width and conditions, traffic patterns and other safety factors. Double yellow lines and warning signs are posted to augment safety considerations in that area as well.

Fermilab has adopted, as a minimum standard, portions of the State of Illinois Vehicle Code and the Rules of the Road. These are the same standards that motorists are legally obligated to observe when operating vehicles on public roadways in Illinois.

 Feb. 27, 2012
 Illinois Yellow Dot initiative maximizes the golden hour

The hour after a medical emergency is often referred to as the golden hour. Treatment rendered during that time can help determine whether you survive or how the incident will affect your quality of life. During the golden hour, it's possible that you may be too physically, mentally or emotionally impaired to provide valuable medical information.

The Illinois Department of Transportation has launched a new voluntary initiative called the Yellow Dot program to help those in motor vehicle accidents give first responders a jump-start in giving quality care.

 Feb. 20, 2012
 What is the cost of quality?

Cost of quality is a phrase that's widely used, but widely misunderstood. The cost of quality isn't just the planned cost of creating a quality product or service. It can also be the additional cost incurred from not creating a quality product or service and having to correct it later.

Poor-quality products and services waste time and money and may threaten our reputation or even cause injury. The cost of quality can be represented by:

 Feb. 13, 2012
 Savanna restoration in Main Ring to start soon

The highly endangered oak savanna was once one of the most common vegetation types in the Midwest. But during the surge of settlement in the 1840s the savanna gave way to the plow, and now less than one percent of Illinois' original savanna remains.

Thanks to a grant from the DuPage Community Foundation, one of those remnants, located in the center of the Main Ring, will be restored.

 Feb. 06, 2012
 Timing is everything: It's phishing season!

Every day, your email inbox is bombarded with spam, which most people properly ignore. Laboratory users are well aware that this spam is designed to extract personal information, such as passwords and financial account numbers. With this information, Fermilab personnel know to safeguard this information carefully.

However, when attackers tailor spam to coincide with events in your life, you can let your guard down. One common example is malicious requests to verify email account information due to oversubscribed email quotas or other issues purported to prevent users from accessing their email.

 Jan. 30, 2012
 Near misses can help you hit the mark for safety

Near misses can provide valuable information about potential dangers that we might fail to notice in our everyday work. Take, for example, a recent event that happened at the laboratory.

In December, two staff members were preparing to move equipment stored on a large shelving system that contained decommissioned equipment earmarked as excess or scrap. A floor dolly loaded with equipment was propped against the shelving, and when one of the workers moved it away, the shelving system collapsed. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

This near miss was used as a chance to educate the laboratory about dangers similar shelving systems can pose.

 Jan. 23, 2012
 Don't let fixing pain turn deadly

Pain relief through medication has changed medicine and people's lives dramatically. It has also created a growing problem in society that can, and has, ended lives of otherwise healthy people.

One in 20 Americans have reported recreational use of painkillers. Nearly 15,000 Americans die from painkiller overdoses annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Many of the deaths are linked to opiod abuse. Opiods such as codeine or OxyContin can be easily obtained through legal means, a prescription bought through illegal internet sales, secured from unscrupulous physicians or imposters or borrowed from a spouse or family member. Borrowed medication is not considered a legitimate use under Femilab's drug testing program.

Opiods were originally produced via opium derived from the poppy plant. They provide effective pain relief but have a downside in terms of tolerance. With regular use over time, a larger dosage is needed to obtain the same effect.

 Jan. 9, 2012
 Avoid "Not Invented Here" syndrome at Fermilab

In the course of our work, we've all had a new technical responsibility assigned or been asked to implement a new administrative or regulatory practice. These responsibilities may fall outside our expertise or comfort zone. Our needs may be unique and we want to find the best solution to accomplish our task.

Our first inclination may be to begin collecting information and formulating a plan to meet the new requirement. Drawing on our experience, we try to consider all options and anticipate future problems. We may feel the need to invent a custom solution to our own specific needs, but we should avoid spending time and money developing an idea if a solution already exists.

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