A Healthy Respect for What Can Go Wrong: PNNL Research Boat Crew Stops Work in Poor Conditions
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Type:  Lessons Learned

Publisher:  Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA

Date: 

Topics:  Work Management/Planning

One technician died and three others from the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission were treated for hypothermia in April after their research boat capsized on the lower Columbia River in poor weather. The crew comprised highly trained technicians with years of experience on the water. Nearby the same day, a crew from PNNL had prepared to conduct research but chose to turn back after launch due to concerns about the weather and their ability to safely navigate the area. Lessons Learned: The PNNL crew operated with a "healthy respect for what can go wrong" and made safety by choice, not by chance. When conditions did not appear as expected, they got off the water. While time pressure and budgets can be a driver to continue working, especially once work has begun, cutting edge science requires cutting edge safety.

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