Offshore Industry Leaders Invest Heavily In Safety Programs
The offshore oil industry market, by its very nature, is a challenging work environment that poses many safety hazards, particularly for individuals and companies which lack adequate safety training. Maritime Reporter & Engineering News sought the insight of two offshore industry leaders — Schlumberger and Halliburton — to discover how the industry leaders set the stage for a work environment that is safe for workers, equipment and investment.
Note: Participants in the survey were Bruce Adams, the QHSE manager for Schlumberger Oilfield Services; and Tom Knode. the HSE Manager for the Business Development segment of Halliburton Energy Services.
MR/EN: How long has your current safety training program been in place? Tom Knode: Halliburton Energy Services and its predecessor companies have conducted safety training for employees for at least the past three decades.
Bruce Adams: The current Schlumberger New Employee Safety Training program (NEST) was developed in 1991.
This is a six-day, intensive training course covering a variety of mandatory safety topics. In 1992. the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) recognized the program as the best overall training program in the offshore industry and awarded Schlumberger the NOIA "Safety in Seas" award for 1992. MR/EN: How much money is spent annually on the safety program?
Knode: The safety program, including safety professionals, equipment, training, and auditing, runs into the tens of millions annually.
Adams: The NEST program is part of a much more comprehensive safety effort in Schlumberger. From 1996 to 1998, the amount of money spent on safety by Schlumberger in the U.S. alone increased from $12.4 million to $19.4 million annually.
MR/EN: Is the program conducted inhouse? Or are the employees sent to an off-site facility?
Knode: The majority of safety training is conducted in-house. Our training and safety professionals primarily conduct the training. In addition to traditional classes, computer-based training is gaining acceptance as a preferred alternative for selected topics and courses (e.g. re-fresher training). This is especially useful for those working offshore who may not be able to routinely attend facility safety meetings or classes. (Off site) We use facilities that have pools for offshore water survival and some H2S Train-the-Trainer.
Adams: Both. NEST schools are conducted at Schlumberger facilities throughout the Gulf Coast and at third party facilities in Lafayette, La. Class size plays a large factor in determining where a session will be held. Trained Schlumberger personnel teach the majority of NEST instruction. There are several sessions in NEST such as Offshore Survival, Confined Space Entry and Fall Protection, which require special facilities/equipment to provide the best level of hands on instruction. Third parties teach these specialized training sessions. Off-site, we are currently partnered with Total Safety in Lafayette. The training professionals of Total Safety provide instruction for several sessions in NEST while providing all training facilities for class sizes up to 30 employees.
MR/EN: How often are training program "classes" held? What percentage of the employee base participates at any one time?
Adams: The number of NEST sessions held depends on our activity and current level of hiring. During the first half of 2000, we have scheduled one session per month. Due to the high level of new employee hiring during the first quarter of 2000, we have held additional sessions to meet this high demand. All new employees who have been hired since the previous NEST session was held will attend. In addition, more experienced employees will attend these training sessions to have their expired training renewed. The average number of attendees at a NEST session varies from 25-40 employees (two-three percent of the employee base in the Gulf Coast).
MR/EN: Are the classes mandatory? Are there optional classes for employees interested in getting more training?
Adams: All Schlumberger employees are required to attend NEST within the first 90 days of employment. Most employees will attend within their first two to four weeks with the company. All of the training sessions in NEST are mandatory and many require annual refresher training. In addition to these sessions, there are several other mandatory safety training classes that Schlumberger employees attend. A wide variety of optional classes are also available to employees via different forms of media, including classroom instruction, video, CD-ROM, and Web-based training. MR/EN: What penalties exist for non-compliance to the safety policies, or non-attendance to the sessions? Knode: Progressive discipline is applied to those violating safety policies. Bonuses and merit increases can also be withheld or reduced when policy is violated or safety competency requirements were not met. Adams: Schlumberger employees monitor the status of their training utilizing a Safety Pass-! port. The Passport records training sessions the employee has attended, participation in safety activities, active involvement on teams such as the LPT and special safety recognition. Based upon the validity dates recorded in the Passport, each employee is responsible for scheduling attendance at safety classes when they are due for an update. Each individual has an annual performance objective to ensure all required safety training is current. Failure to attend scheduled training sessions would result in an individual being unable to achieve this performance goal.
MR/EN: What steps are taken to ensure the policies and skills learned in training are kept up during the workday? Are there random checks? Weekly meetings?
Knode: There are daily, weekly and monthly safety meetings held at the facilities. Pre and, post-job safety meetings are held on the wellsite. Hazard observation cards are used to identify unsafe acts or conditions. Routine inspections of the facility and work-sites are conducted by different levels of management.
Each of these reinforce the competencies gained in the safety training.
Adams: Each facility conducts a program of regular safety meetings, which are led by management and the LPT. In addition, daily safety meetings are conducted at the job site and a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) is completed on each operation performed. Each Schlumberger employee is taught to observe the actions of others and to shut down any operation deemed unsafe until corrective action is taken. In addition, a detailed audit program is used to evaluate facilities, management systems and job sites. These audits are conducted by all levels of management to ensure safety policies and standard operating procedures are being followed. MR/EN: Are there changes planned for your program in the next one to five years? New courses or skills added, or dropped?
Knode: We will move towards a behavioral-based safety program that will require training for observation of safe behaviors. A migration away from traditional classroom training towards computer-based training for those courses that can be delivered via distance learning is underway. Computer skills will have to be developed in the workforce so that this system can be fully utilized. Language and other barriers that do not manifest themselves in the classrooms will be brought out during the implementation of the new training.
Adams: The Schlumberger safety program and the training it entails, including NEST, is continuously updated and modified based upon identified risks, regulatory requirements, and the needs of our employees. There is no doubt the structure of NEST in two years will vary from today's NEST.
MR/EN: How has your company's operations changed (for better or worse) as a result of a safety program?
Adams: The list of significant benefits of a world-class safety program is quite extensive. Over the past three years these benefits to Schlumberger in the Gulf Coast include: • A Driving Incident rate 1/5 national average • 27 percent reduction in Worker's Comp expenditures over 3 years (97/98- 7.2MM, 98/99-6.5MM, 99/00-5.3MM) • 26 percent reduction in Total Recordable Incident Rate in 1999 • 75 percent reduction in Lost Work Day injuries in Gulf Coast • 48 percent reduction is Stepping, Handling and Lifting related incidents, 99 vs. 98 (Gulf Coast) • Recognition from Major customers for safety excellence among large contractors.