Today at Berkeley Lab

EHS Rolls Out Realignment Plan

Berkeley Lab’s Environment, Health & Safety Division has launched a major restructuring of its operations, and its new management has begun meeting with leaders of other divisions to explain the changes. EHS Division Director Douglas Fleming said that the new organization will be “more efficient, nimble, and responsive.”

A key element of the new organization is a focus on collaborative customer service. “We want to reach out to customers, rather than them having to come to us,” Fleming explains. “We will also minimize duplication of efforts — that means less paperwork — and expand crossover responsibilities with the division.”

To carry out a new EHS vision of collaborative customer service, a new Client Support Services unit has been formed under Joe Dionne. Dionne’s appointment as Deputy Director for Client Support Services was the third in a new leadership structure announced to EHS staffers by Fleming last fall. Deputy Director Jack Salazar is in charge of Technical Program Management, while Gita Meckel is Deputy Director of EHS Operations. Salazar is currently also leading Security and Emergency Services group, while a replacement is sought for newly retired Security and Emergency Operations group leader Dan Lunsford.

The original Optimization Plan laid out by Fleming called for the realignment to take place at the end of March, but the planning process was running ahead of schedule, so the EHS leadership team decided to implement the plan a month and one half early. Under the new system, a quarter of EHS employees will have a new reporting structure and/or a new supervisor. Senior managers have been reduced from nine to six. Fleming said the realignment will present “more growth opportunities” for staff
The streamlining effort involves a new reporting structure for much of the organization. Eight technical groups will now be consolidated into four collaborative functional groups. A set of new organization charts is available on line.

Fleming was appointed Director of EHS in January 2010. He has been developing the Optimization plan since last summer with other members of his leadership team, and kept the staff informed of progress on the plan through weekly and biweekly e-mail updates. He acknowledges that big changes in structure like this one can make his employees uneasy, so he has been trying to keep them informed as the plan was developed. “We intended to remove organizational silos, so it is clear that we are each part of a larger time whose purpose is to meet the needs of our customers,’’ Fleming explains.

For the rest of the lab, Fleming said he expects these changes will lead to a more open and responsive organization. EHS operations touch on every aspect of the lab, from workplace safety, employee health, to lab security and incident investigations. Among the responsibilities of EHS is to provide all necessary support to ensure lab activities are conducted in compliance with health and safety codes.

To explain how the new organization will work, Fleming has dispatched his new Deputy Directors and Department Heads to discuss it with their many stakeholders throughout the Lab. Meeting with Division Directors have already been scheduled, and smaller group sessions have already taken place and are planned throughout the coming year. Fleming said his goal is to dissolve the “we-they” relationship that has sometimes characterized dealings with EHS in the past. “Fundamentally,” says Fleming, “We want EHS activities to be woven into the fabric of Berkeley Lab’s planning and decision-making process.”