Column: Should the Safety Department Manage Safety?

Source: ProAct Safety | 30 July 2014

The typical corporate organizational chart isn’t what it used to be. It has gone from fat to flat, dotted lines have largely disappeared, and the safety department has been moved around like a chess piece. However, in many organizations, the safety professionals still fill a subject-matter-specific management role in safety. In such organizations, operational managers and supervisors tend to let the safety professionals manage safety while they take care of “business.”

There are several potential problems with this model that have driven many high-performing organizations to make changes.

Column: Sticky Stories are Safety Savvy

Source: ProAct Safety | 21 July 2014

On a cold and windy day, a worker was crossing a street at his plant and was struck and killed by a truck. The driver said he was backing the truck because an exit was blocked and he never saw the worker. It looked as if the worker had been holding his coat up to block the cold wind and did not see the truck. It was speculated that the worker was used to traffic coming from the other direction and may have looked that direction and not toward the backing truck. No one witnessed the event.

Safety professionals and the supervisor conducted an investigation and concluded that certain corrective actions were warranted. They unblocked the exit and changed the design of the gate to ensure that trucks would not need to back out of the street. They also concluded that workers should wear reflective vests while working at sites where vehicles and pedestrians were both present. The use of the vest became a new rule.

Safety managers announced the new policy of wearing reflective vests at other sites and were met with stiff resistance. Workers did not want to wear the vests and resented being ordered to do so. They did not see the need for the vests and thought they would be uncomfortable and unattractive. Safety managers related the story of the accident to justify the new rule, but workers took exception and said that it was an overreaction and would not improve safety.

However, at one site, the safety manager held a meeting and simply told the story of the accident to the workers. He showed photos of the worker and his wife and children. He expressed his sympathy and his desire that no such tragedy would ever happen to any worker at his site. He asked the workers what they could do to make sure they never had such an accident. The workers suggested wearing reflective vests as one possibility and welcomed the new rule as a sensible precaution.

When asked about the reason for the rule on reflective vests a year later, only a few workers at the resistant sites could remember the story of the accident. The workers from the site that began with the story could almost recite the story in great detail.

There are several reasons for the difference in both the acceptance and remembering of the information from the accident report. For one thing, stories are sticky; they are more memorable and stick in our minds better than other types of information, such as conclusions and corrective measures.

Older Tank Cars To Be Phased Out Under Industry Proposal

Source: Bloomberg | 15 July 2014

The oil industry and the railroads that haul its crude have offered US regulators a joint plan to phase out a type of older tank car tied to a spate of fiery accidents, according to two people familiar with the proposal.

The plan also calls for slightly thicker walls for new cars to make them less vulnerable to puncture, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private communications. The parties agreed to scrap a fleet of thousands of DOT-111s within three years if manufacturers agree they can replace or retrofit the tank cars in that period.

Representatives of the American Petroleum Institute and the Association of American Railroads met with officials of the Transportation Department and Office of Management and Budget on July 11 to present their plan, one of the people said.

Column: A Better Way To Measure Safety Culture Maturity

Source: ProAct Safety via LinkedIn | 14 July 2014

Forget the old ways of measuring safety culture maturity. There is a new, more effective way to measure cultural maturity, and it starts with looking at the chemistry.

“Just as a growing plant needs the right elements in the soil for maximum growth, a safety culture needs the right elements in the organization to maximize its true potential for excellence. Safety culture is much more organic than most of the models recognize, and the formation of a safety culture is more akin to growing a plant than to drawing an organizational chart. If you plant the right seeds of capability and control the climate and chemistry, you will grow a safety culture toward excellence. Once it is growing, you can shape it and further adjust the climate and chemistry to maximize its potential.” —An excerpt from STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence (2013, Mathis and Galloway)

In consulting globally with many of the best in safety performance and culture, nine elements (see the figure with this post) have been identified as most important foci to establish the chemistry which facilitates the necessary climate for a culture of safety excellence to grow. Through consulting engagements and workshops, these nine elements have been successfully leveraged and measured to help organizations identify both their starting point baseline, and also to strategically prioritize which elements to focus on to advance the capabilities of their safety culture.

Oil & Gas UK Releases Annual Health and Safety Report

Source: Oil & Gas UK | 20 June 2014

Oil & Gas UK published its annual Health & Safety report on 19 June. As in previous years, the report sets out a summary of industry health and safety performance across a range of indicators and describes many of the issues and activities influencing that performance.

Industry health and safety performance during the last year presents a mixed picture; while progress has been made across certain areas, some safety indicators have deteriorated compared with the previous year.

The report confirmed that there has been a 49% reduction in the number of reportable hydrocarbon releases over 3 years to the end of March 2013—narrowly missing the 50% industry target. Despite the decrease in the number of major and significant releases continuing a welcome 5-year downward trend, the remainder of 2013 saw an overall increase in total number of releases. There was also a slight increase in the frequency of reportable injuries and dangerous occurrences, reversing the trend of improvement in previous years.

“Despite the ongoing and encouraging decrease in major and significant releases over the last year, the industry is not yet where it needs to be,” said Robert Paterson, Oil & Gas UK’s health and safety director. “Industry, working closely with the regulators and the workforce through Step Change and other bodies, is refocusing attention on preventative strategies and programs to maintain and enhance momentum in this crucial area.”

Column: Speaking Up When You See Something Unsafe Offshore

Source: BSEE | 19 June 2014

The tragic loss of life and environmental catastrophe that followed the blowout in 2010 at the Macondo well brought into focus the importance of empowering offshore workers to raise concerns regarding potential unsafe operations or violations of law. It is critical that offshore operators and contractors create a safety culture that empowers and encourages workers to speak up when they see potential problems.

A good example of how to handle worker complaints about unsafe operations came, in the aftermath of the Macondo disaster, from an unlikely source—a company that recently pled guilty to violations that occurred during offshore operations. That company, Helmerich & Payne (H&P), is a contractor that provides drilling services on platforms operating in the Gulf of Mexico. In May 2010, an H&P worker on a platform located in Mississippi Canyon (the same lease area where the Macondo well is located) reported the falsification of certain documents reflecting the results of pressure testing of the blowout preventer system to his superiors within the company.

H&P’s management, within 24 hours of the complaint, informed the operator of the platform about the allegations; and, after discerning the validity of the complaint, the operator and H&P reported the violations to the Mineral Management Service (the predecessor agency to BSEE).


Column: Seven Ways To Improve Workplace Safety Without Going Broke

Source: Entrepreneur | 19 June 2014

Safety isn’t always foremost in the minds of entrepreneurs or small-business owners. For some, a severe injury to a worker is a very remote possibility and hardly worth worrying about. Still others believe there is no way to get the job done safely without spending heaps of money that they just don’t have. Yet small businesses sometimes discover the hard way that it doesn’t take many injuries to put a company in real financial peril.

The belief that a business must choose between workplace safety and making a profit is a very old and deeply held mindset. Unfortunately it’s usually just plain wrong. Here are seven approaches that any business owner can adopt to reduce the risk of worker injuries without adding prohibitive cost.

UK Safety Award Recognizes Five Consecutive Gold Awards, 9 Years Without a Lost-Time Incident

Source: 16 June 2014

Conductor Installation Services (CIS), an Acteon company that provides hammer services to install conductors and drive piles, has been awarded the prestigious Gold Medal for Occupational Health and Safety from the UK’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

The prize is only awarded to those organizations that have received a Gold Award for Occupational Health and Safety for 5 consecutive years, which CIS achieved this year. Once again, CIS completed another year of operation without a lost-time incident (LTI).

Working Safe Paves Path to Success
Since opening its doors in 2005, CIS has made safety a top priority, investing in training in safe practices that has made it possible for the company to achieve a great deal without compromising quality or putting others at risk, the company said.

“CIS has installed conductors for us in a wide range of environments, from tropical waters offshore Colombia, Malaysia and Qatar, to the frigid Caspian Sea. Regardless of the environment, CIS brings with it a commitment to safety,” said Anthony Papalia, regional business unit manager for Weatherford. “While working with CIS for the past 9 years, we have had zero recordable safety issues and incidents. In collaboration with CIS, we are able to meet our HSE standards of excellence at Weatherford,” he added.

The RoSPA Awards criteria takes into consideration not only accident records, but also the entrant’s overall health and safety management systems, recognizing important practices such as strong leadership and workforce involvement.

Highest Safety Accolade in UK
“Working in the oil and gas industry is unlike any other. Yes, it is highly rewarding, but carries with it predictable risks. Whether working onshore or offshore, these risks must be addressed each and every day, which is why commitment to safety is an essential part of the CIS working experience,” said Andy Penman, group managing director of the CIS Group. “Receiving the Gold Medal, the UK’s highest safety accolade, means that our people are choosing to work safely, with great care and vigilance. They recognize that operating year after year without a single LTI would not be possible without their dedication, so I am deeply grateful to them,” he added.

In recognition of this outstanding achievement, Andy Penman, group managing director of CIS, was presented the award by Michael Parker, RoSPA vice chairman, at the RoSPA Occupational Health & Safety Awards Ceremony in Birmingham, England.

CIS, a member of Acteon’s Conductors, Risers, and Flowlines group, provides conductor and pile installation services associated with construction projects carried out in the global oil and gas industry. These services are carried out both onshore and offshore to, for example, create foundations for new wells, platforms, bridges, and jetties.

The range of services provided by CIS supports the Acteon Group’s commitment to defining subsea services across a range of interconnected disciplines.

EIA Expects Oil, Gas Disruptions From Hurricanes

Source: UPI | 16 June 2014

Oil and natural gas disruptions from hurricane activity in the Gulf of Mexico may be much higher than last year, the U.S. Energy Department said Thursday.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA), the statistical arm of the Energy Department, said its mean estimate is that 12 million bbl of crude oil and 30 Bcf of natural gas could be forced offline during the current hurricane season. That would be three and four times higher than 2013, respectively, if forecasts are accurate.

EIA said its estimates are “highly uncertain” given the difficulty in predicting the intensity of storms in the Atlantic.

Buckled Pipe at Core of Macondo Event, Says US Chemical Safety Board

Source: Offshore | 16 June 2014

A draft assessment of the Macondo blowout by the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) concludes that the blowout preventer (BOP) failed to seal the well because the drillpipe buckled.

The buckled pipe moved off center within the BOP, which precluded the successful ram function, earlier in the timeline than previously estimated. The CSB also concludes that the BOP’s blind shear ram did activate the night of the accident, days earlier than estimated in other assessments. The report says that “effective compression” of the drillpipe caused the ram to puncture the off-center pipe.

“Our investigation has produced several important findings that were not identified in earlier examinations of the blowout preventer failure,” said CSB Investigator Cheryl MacKenzie, who led the investigative team.

Column: Who Says Go? Is Safety Led or Abdicated?

Source: ProAct Safety | 27 May 2014

Over the past several decades, business has decentralized many specialty roles; leadership is not one of them. In most organizations, one person or small group sets the tone and establishes the priorities and values for the business. If these recognized leaders also lead safety, it becomes an organizational value. If they delegate safety to someone else, it sends an unmistakable message to the organization. Safety can still be viewed as important, but it is not in the organizational mainstream. The message is, “Let’s run our business and, by the way, let’s be safe too.”

This message accurately reflects the mindset of many leaders who view safety as a thorn in the side of their true mission. Many organizational leaders came up through the ranks and once were specialists themselves. They were financial, technical, or sales people. These leaders tend to slant the organizational priorities toward their own specialty while learning to manage other organizational realities. Very few are specifically groomed or educated to be organizational leaders, and not many safety professionals climb into the organizational leadership roles. This often results in leaders who know little about safety and have other higher priorities.

Good business leaders can become good safety leaders with two simple strategies: First, safety has to be expressed in business terms; and, second, safety has to be managed like other business priorities.

“Smart Cement” Addresses Well Safety, Environmental Issues

Source: Rigzone | 13 May 2014

Oil and gas companies are testing the potential of “talking” cement to address safety and environmental issues that surround cementing issues in wells.

Oceanit, which is headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii, and has offices in Washington, Houston, and El Granada, California, has formed a joint industry program (JIP) with major oil and gas companies and the US Department of Energy to explore the potential for an additive mixture, developed through nanotechnology research, to address wellbore integrity and zonal isolation in wells.

This technology is expected to affect well economics significantly by preventing catastrophic well blowouts and addressing environmental barriers by safeguarding aquifers, said Vinod P. Veedu, director of strategic initiatives at Oceanit. To create the sensing cement, Oceanit blends with cement an additive mixture comprised of nanomaterials. In the mixing process, the nanomaterials are uniformly dispersed through the cement, forming a network of material that can be pinged to retrieve a signal.