Of all the things that could possibly go wrong for the US space agency, you wouldn’t expect the security ID badge holder of NASA employees to rank very high on the list of “risks.” Unfortunately, the new high-tech security badge holders recently issued to NASA employees have been identified as having a fairly problematic health and safety design flaw. Should the badges’ metal clasps be installed incorrectly, they could pose a projectile risk, possibly causing serious eye injuries…
Admittedly, this isn’t big news in the realms of the space exploration, but it is news nonetheless, proving that even NASA cannot escape from clerical design flaws. In an effort to fall in line with President Bush’s Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12, NASA employees have to carry a new type of badge which is protected against being read from a distance and also provides the wearer with some freedom as to when they want to show it. Unfortunately, there is a design flaw with the badge and on August 15th, NASA had to issue a warning to Kennedy Space Center employees stating that the new Identity Stronghold badge holder has the “potential to introduce dangerous Foreign Object Damage (FOD) to flight hardware areas and can cause personnel injury if the metal clips are installed improperly.”
According to new guidelines, when removing the badge, the employee must not aim the metal clips at a colleague as it could create a potential eye injury hazard, technically known as Foreign (or Flying) Object Damage (FOD). I’d imaging this being an acute problem during security checks, guards flinching as employees show their badges, fearful of a metal clasp flying at their faces. Not only that, employees are advised not to play with their badges around sensitive electronics:
“The badge holder may separate with little effort, allowing the clips, the front half of the holder and badge ID to separate creating a significant FOD hazard in controlled areas […] Personnel should ensure the badge holder is not worn, or is properly secured, in the vicinity of sensitive flight hardware, such as electronics, where FOD may be an issue […] When removing your badge, do not point [the] end with metal clips towards your face or another person.” – Randy Aden, Office of Protective Services, Jet Propulsion Lab.
Use of the badge holder, made by the Florida-based company Identity Stronghold, has now been suspended and a temporary clear plastic holder is being used in its place. The Stronghold design was chosen as it has an “electromagnetically opaque sleeve to prevent the card from being read at a distance and to give the user some control over when and where the card is exposed for reading,” according to the source Information Week article.
Interestingly, the Identity Stronghold website proudly states that its Secure Badgeholder “has been awarded the 2008 GOOD DESIGN award for product design.” I don’t think the “GOOD DESIGN” award was good enough.
Fortunately there have been no reports of serious card holder-related FOD injuries so far. Who would have thought an ID badge could be so dangerous?
Source: Information Week