In oil and gas, safety is more than a buzzword – it’s a way of life

 

The safety focus of the Oil & Gas industry is something to be proud of.   Another in a series of posts about some of the good things coming from our industry that benefit society and our world as a whole.
The oil and gas industry sometimes suffers from a “perception vs. reality” problem (anyone remember those old ads for Rolling Stone Magazine?). A case in point is on-the-job safety. Oil and gas field operations are often conducted in harsh and potentially risky environments. The general public sometimes perceives the industry to be dangerous – largely due to a few, high profile accidents. Yet reality (in the form of undeniable statistics) tells a different story. The oil and gas industry is actually substantially SAFER than many other sectors, as pointed out in a recent article in Forbes Magazine.

At Geoforce, we see this emphasis on safety every day. As we go about our business, we are reminded with a constant stream of seemingly small examples, even in white collar environments:

  • – At BP Headquarters in Houston, when entering a garage there, the guard reminds drivers to turn on their lights and stay off their cell phones.
  • – At Halliburton, drivers leaving the campus are reminded by a sign to turn off cell phones
  • – At a recent supply chain conference of O&G executives, the first announcement was the location of the fire exits
  • – At Shell in New Orleans, the guard provides each visitor with a copy of the building evacuation plan
  • – Our installation technicians must wear fire-retardant clothing when working in a customer’s yard

Beyond these examples, another way to describe the obsession with safety in the Oil & Gas industry is with an astonishing statistic – and humorous anecdote.   Exxon’s new headquarters (1/6 the accident rate of similar projects)   There’s been lots of buzz about the state of the art campus Exxon-Mobil is building in The Woodlands, outside of Houston, Texas. When it opens in 2014, the 20+ building complex is expected to be among the most state-of-the-art corporate facilities anywhere in the world. Less known is the exemplary construction safety record that the project has produced since construction began in 2011. According to the Houston Business Journal, the massive effort recently passed a milestone of more than 7 million work hours without any injuries resulting in missed work time. Since the beginning, the project has also had an injury rate of one-sixth of the average for commercial construction projects. You can bet that Exxon’s HS&E group is extremely proud of that record.   Don’t answer that cell phone while Driving!   The humorous anecdote involves Baker Hughes. Not long ago, a couple of us from Geoforce invited several people from BHI to lunch, following a meeting. One person from Baker took her own car, since she had to go directly to another location after lunch. We had agreed on the restaurant, however (after departing the office) we realized that restaurant was closed on Mondays and we had to pick another location. We tried calling the woman’s cell phone, but she would not answer while driving – as she adhered strictly to BHI’s policy. We had to track her down by car on the way to the restaurant. Was it frustrating? A bit. Was it impressive? You bet.   At Geoforce, we’re proud to play a role in the industry’s safety effort, with our new Remote Worker Tracking Console, but we are even prouder that we’re part of a business where safety is more than a buzzword.