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Of Interest

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On site

Safety has no holiday

Kirsten Haupt

Don your helmet, put on safety goggles and gloves, step into your steel-capped work boots, and slip into a bright yellow vest—these are basic safety rules for anyone going onto the ITER worksite. But safety is so much more.

How do you test the equipment for heavy load lifting? Workers refresh their knowledge about different types of ropes, shackles and hooks. (Click to view larger version...)
How do you test the equipment for heavy load lifting? Workers refresh their knowledge about different types of ropes, shackles and hooks.
"Spot the seven mistakes"—what sounds like a game is serious business. Several workers in their bright work gear look at a section of scaffolding and start counting potential safety hazards. There is a broken plank at the top level, the ladder is missing a step, and a piece of safety railing hangs loose. Other stands offer the opportunity to prove one's knowledge in handling oil spills, safely managing the transfer of heavy loads, or using first aid equipment.

For four days, the fair-like atmosphere of Safety Week took over one end of a large car park at ITER. Once every year, the 850 workers of the French-Spanish consortium VFR (comprising French companies VINCI, Razel-Bec, Dodin Campenon Bernard, Campenon Bernard Sud-Est, GTM Sud and Chantiers Modernes Sud, and the Spanish firm Ferrovial Agroman) refresh their knowledge about safety rules and regulations at the workplace—a tradition adopted from VINCI, which organizes the event at all its branches worldwide.

Director-General Bernard Bigot stresses the importance of respecting safety rules at the workplace in his exchange with workers attending Safety Week. (Click to view larger version...)
Director-General Bernard Bigot stresses the importance of respecting safety rules at the workplace in his exchange with workers attending Safety Week.
Safety at the workplace is also an important issue for ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot. Before touring the stands with the safety training exercises, he told the workers: "We are developing an energy source that is safe and environmentally friendly. Demonstrating that we are also serious about safety at the work place will give further credence to our message." While we have experienced some safety incidents resulting in injuries, so far ITER has had no fatal accident on the construction site due to unsafe work practices. "I want us to keep up this record until the completion of the ITER Project."

"Safety is the only thing that has no holiday," says Prabhat Kumar, Deputy to the Site Construction Director at ITER, ahead of an award ceremony for the contractors with the best safety record that happens to coincide with Safety Week. Winning contractors for the second quarter of 2018 are the French companies SEMA (stainless steel waterproofing in the Tokamak Building) and Métal Concept (building of steel structures in the cryoplant). According to Kumar, the safety awards serve as an additional incentive for all companies to improve their health and safety performance.


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