Managing Oilfield Safety Culture for a Growing Workforce 312

It was not too long ago that layoffs were rampant in the oil patch; however, we are now in the middle of an upturn and the need for additional labor continues to increase. After your company has become accustomed to working with a small force, you may suddenly find yourself bursting at the seams with new (and returning) employees. This is not a time to send them all back to the field. Instead, it’s important to verify that their training is current to support your culture of safety.

Managing oilfield safety in your growing workforce requires a commitment to providing training to team members as needed, as well as ensuring that your policies and procedures are optimized for the sudden increase in demand. Taking the time to strengthen your existing policies and manuals, as well as improving the necessary tracking for safety training which may not be able to support the expanded workforce, are both key to preventing safety disasters. Here are some additional tips to help you manage safety when your employee numbers increase:

Oilfield Safety Culture

Have strong safety goals and values: Make sure your company’s commitment to safety is institutionalized in messaging. Everything you say and represent should communicate that your priorities are: nobody gets hurt, we protect the environment, and safety is our top concern.

Model basic principles: Make sure that you express, in writing and in attitude, the following beliefs:

  • Incidents are preventable;

  • Everyone is responsible for oilfield safety;

  • HSE performance is measured and managed;

  • Management is committed to safety;

  • The company always complies with rules and regulations.

Leadership: Prepare your management team to lead by example, and teach them to monitor their team’s performance, establish best practices for their division (which support those of the company), and emphasize the importance of open communication. Their team members need to know that they can ask any questions and should report any hazard or risk they encounter. Make reporting of any violations, risks, and hazards an expected part of a leader’s job.

SOPs: Provide SOPs to new employees, as well as revised SOPs to current employees. Periodic inspections of company locations help to ensure procedures are followed, and site visits help to create open communication and a culture of accepting changes and suggestions for SOPs by individuals working at the job sites.

Oilfield Safety Skills

Training: Adequate training is perhaps the best way to manage oilfield safety, especially in preventing incidents. Develop a plan to train employees based on job description and working conditions. Provide thorough certification requirements, and provide ample opportunities for team members to add additional certifications. A fully trained workforce is a safer workforce. To maintain a skilled staff, provide for on-site continued training and coaching to improve performance, and be sure to ask for training feedback. It is also essential to have a program in place to automatically notify safety managers on a regular basis of upcoming safety training expirations. This prevents employees with expired safety training from slipping through the cracks and allows for proactive planning of training and coaching.

Equipment: In an industry where large, dangerous, and extensive equipment is used regularly, safety standards must include proper handling of equipment. The following are important parts of an equipment safety plan:

  • A clear maintenance program to prevent breakdowns and accidents;

  • Procedures on dangerous equipment;

  • A quality control program;

  • A tracking system to monitor repairs, replacements and expirations.

Documentation: In this heavily-regulated industry, it is imperative that you record everything; from policy and procedure changes, violations, and training processes, this ensures that not only does your team have access to all crucial information to perform their best, but risk is reduced and improvements can be made based on the data collected. Safety software like Phoenix’s Safety module allows for quick and accurate documentation, as all information is stored on the cloud, providing access to forms and results from any device. Exported reports provide management with evidence of the company’s commitment to oilfield safety success.

Oilfield Safety Reviews

Audits/Reviews: Audits are an important part of a successful safety plan. To tackle the list of audits and reviews important to your team, create a schedule. This provides for adequate time to review assessments, create an improvement plan, and review conditions or employee actions which could be dangerous to health or to the environment. Further, scheduling meetings with department and team managers allows them the opportunity to bring their own assessments for a complete safety picture within each department and enables them to participate in improvements.

Emergency Procedures: Emergencies happen and it is crucial in a growing company to have a written response plan, including identifying team members qualified to respond to incidences (roles, responsibilities, authority). Especially important in a business covering a large geographic area, it is important to indicate available local resources. Finally, to strengthen your company’s culture of safety, have policies and procedure for reporting emergencies to regulatory agencies.

Risk Assessment: Regular assessment of risks helps to identify vulnerabilities, as well as to correct them quickly. Identify and document all risks and potential hazards, and implement procedures with tools to reduce them quickly. A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) is a proven method to tackle this. Create measures necessary to reduce accident incidences. By monitoring on a continual basis, patterns can be identified and adjustments made to manage (and improve) oilfield safety.

Incident Notification and Investigation procedures: As mentioned above, this is a regulated industry, with multiple agencies requiring a variety of notifications. Having standards for notification and investigations prevents a lack of accurate notifications, and means less scrambling if an investigation is necessary. Recording near-miss incidents also helps to improve compliance.

These steps will help you prepare for the increase of employees you may be experiencing, or are expecting. The sooner you strengthen your oilfield safety processes and procedures, the safer and more productive your team will be. Online safety management software can not only improve your training program, but electronic records (certifications of people and equipment, records of violations, and fillable forms for reporting) reduce human error. It also serves to minimize the time needed to complete reporting and assessments. Once a thorough plan is in place, an annual review of your plan may be all that is necessary to ensure your safety procedures are followed and reliable.

This article is reprinted with permission from Oildex.

Case Study: Learn how M&M Pipeline Services improved compliance with safety testing and management using Phoenix DAS modules.

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