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New Office of Polar Programs Safety and Occupational Health policy


June 21, 2017

The Office of Polar Programs has made official its Safety and Occupational Health policy. The policy, which applies to all of  OPP’s science operations in both the Arctic and Antarctic, was signed by Susanne LaFratta, who heads OPP’s Polar Environment, Safety, and Health Section on June 14.

The policy is designed to achieve a single goal: to protect our most valuable resource, our people.

The policy provides guidance on safety processes and procedures to ensure that risk is mitigated to the fullest extent possible in OPP’s research and research-support operations. The policy is drawn from real life safety “lessons learned” (and best practices) and based on many years of field experience.

Polar Programs has a strong safety record, with accident statistics lower than most industries in the U.S., which reflects widespread appreciation of the well-being of our researchers and support staff  who spend days, weeks, and sometimes months in harsh polar environments every year.

Nonetheless, there is always room for improvement where safety is concerned.

Like any well-developed policy, this was a team effort involving NSF OPP leadership and staff covering both Polar regions and including our prime contractors’ safety teams and their leadership. Our thanks go out to all who assisted in this effort, which may very well save lives and insure that the risks of conducting research in the far reaches of the Earth are effectively minimized.

Stay safe!

Jon Fentress
NSF OPP Safety and Occupational Health Officer

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2020 budget of $8.3 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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