By Mustapha Boucif, Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations
As a result of the significant efforts being undertaken by Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO) drilling division and its contractors to meet the business plan, in 2008 we managed to record our lowest lost-time injury frequency (LTIF) ever in ADCO’s drilling division history.
The drilling division, our drilling contractor National Drilling Company (NDC) and our service providers all exerted tremendous efforts in adhering strictly to their cornerstone objectives of ensuring no harm to employees and local communities, protecting the environment and assets and moving toward zero flaring.
“Fariiq Wahad” (One Team), symbolizing the drilling division’s HSE culture and spirit, was the leitmotif to the continuous improvement to achieve a world-class HSE performance. It is rewarding to look back in retrospective and take pride in realizing that we have become the HSE leader in the Gulf region.
One powerful tool we have developed to demonstrate HSE leadership on the rig site and to improve drilling safety as a whole is the high-profile visit. In addition, monthly meetings with contractors, on-site HSE workshops, audits and HSE inspection on a continuous basis and regularly launching campaigns with NDC were other key factors to achieving outstanding HSE performance.
Over the past two decades, ADCO’s drilling safety has been improving on an exponential basis from a reactive era to a proactive era, finally achieving world-class HSE performance in 2006.
Then, after a slowdown in performance in 2007, a new strategy was adopted in 2008. Analysis of our LTIs, near-misses and high potentials for 2007 showed that the common root cause to these incidents was leadership failure from the management on rig site and office, and a lack of awareness (unsafe behavior) on rig site. To further improve on our 2006 performance, it was necessary to look at the behavioral aspect, which is in accordance with the evolution of the safety culture curve (Figure 1), and to develop tools to mitigate it.
Figure 1: Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO) decided to address the behavioral aspect of safety after seeing a slowdown in its HSE performance in 2007. One tool that has been used in this effort is the high-profile visit, which worked effectively to demonstrate senior management’s commitment to safety.
As a result, all efforts were focused on two strategic axes – human behavior and management commitment on rig site – resulting in an outstanding performance in 2008.
The step-change occurred after a fourth LTI occurred on a NDC rig on 29 September 2007. On the next day, ADCO’s top management decided to shut down all onshore rigs for six hours and to visit all the rigs to listen to the crews. This strong demonstration from ADCO’s top management to safety resulted in a deep behavioral change on all rigs, resulting in one year free of LTI.
Figure 2: After the implementation of high-profile visits on its rigs to show employees that safety is a top company priority,
ADCO achieved a lost-time injury frequency (LTIF) of 0.09 in 2008 – the lowest ever in ADCO drilling history.
Since then, high-profile visits have been conducted on a regular basis to maintain the awareness of crews. It has become one of the key success factors to achieving an outstanding performance for the year 2008, when the LTIF was 0.09, the lowest ever in ADCO drilling history (Figure 2).
Vehicle accident frequency (VAF) was also the lowest in ADCO’s drilling division history. ADCO’s rigs are spread all over the United Arab Emirates (UAE); driving is one the biggest challenges for the drilling division and a key priority for management.
In 2008, a one-year campaign was launched to keep the awareness of employees to its maximum and to improve the safety behavior of the drivers. More than 18 million km were driven in 2008, and only two light accidents occurred, without injuries.
Figure 3: As of the end of June this year, the vehicle accident frequency (VAF) for ADCO’s drilling division was 0.0, with 10.5 million km driven. This achievement followed a campaign that aimed to keep employee awareness of safe behaviors at a high level.
At the end of June 2009, VAF for the drilling division was 0.0, with over 10.5 million km driven (Figure 3). Again, part of the high-profile tour was to ensure that drivers were not violating rules and that managers were supervising the drivers and ensuring that the road safety policy was fully implemented by setting an example (booking out, bucking their safety belts, not smoking in the cars) – leading by example.
HIGH-PROFILE HSE TOURS
The most fundamental factor affecting HSE performance is what is commonly referred to as “safety culture.” The strongest influence on culture within most organizations is “the message from the top.”
To further demonstrate ADCO’s commitment to improve its safety culture, a formal program of HSE engagement with staff – called the “high-profile HSE tour” – was launched.
High-visibility HSE tours are basically rig visits by senior management to maintain a “See, Hear and Feel” approach toward HSE.
General management and divisional managers are responsible for conducting high-profile HSE tours to demonstrate senior management’s commitment to HSE by active personal participation in HSE activities.
• Demonstrate leadership and commitment by ADCO senior management.
• Encourage informal discussions between ADCO senior management and their employees and contractors.
• Improve the HSE culture and reduce workplace incidents.
• Identify areas for HSE improvement.
• Assist in resolving outstanding HSE issues.
• Tours provided staff with a visible and practical indication of management’s commitment to HSE.
• Tours were a key contributor to raising HSE standards, reducing incidents.
• Tours provided the opportunity for management to engage in two-way communications with staff members about HSE, which indicated to the workforce that
ADCO management truly cares for their safety and well being.
• Balance team participation (technical and non-technical).
• Increased exposure of non-technical team members to both crew and personal safety.
• Demonstrate leadership quality and commitment of team members.
In 2008, 27 high-profile HSE visits were conducted on the rigs involving all ADCO top management. A total of 142 findings were recorded, and 139 actions were closed out in the time frame specified (98% efficiency).
Figure 4: Most of the 142 findings recorded in 27 high-profile HSE visits
made in 2008 were related to human behavior, ADCO found.
Observations from high-profile HSE tours showed that most of the findings were related to human behavior. The findings classifications included (Figure 4):
• Tools and equipment, including hand tools, emergency equipment and fire-fighting equipment: 30%.
• Housekeeping: 24 %.
• Personal protective equipment: 11%.
• Permit to work: 10%.
• Occupational health, medical, welfare: 8%.
• Road safety: 4%.
Overall, the high-profile tour has proven to be an excellent tool for management to visibly demonstrate to all rig personnel that they are fully committed to safety and that safety is truly a value within ADCO and NDC.
High-profile HSE tours were the key factor in the drilling division achieving its best safety performance in ADCO history, with an LTIF of 0.09 and more than 20 million km driven without injuries. The success of the program highlighted in this article shows clearly that the behavior of the drilling crews can be changed by a visible commitment and involvement from top management and that the high-profile visit is a powerful tool in improving drilling safety.
By keeping a permanent physical and informal contact among the workers, the drilling crews and the top management of ADCO and NDC, the safety behavior culture of the drilling crews was changed forever. “Don’t let safety take a holiday” was one of our slogans.
The success of the program and practices highlighted in this article is one of the aspects that contributed to the achievement of excellence in safety performance. In the case of ADCO drilling division, it has been the successful combination and influence of its productive system of meetings; quarterly campaigns, audit, inspection and emergency preparedness; the successful implementation of safety leadership training; and finally the visible demonstration from all levels of management to safety in their operations.
ADCO Drilling Division has clearly established a successful formula for its safety performance. With the continuous improvement of the high-profile tour program and the establishment of new and progressive safety programs, ADCO’s drilling division will remain a world-class performer for the future.
This article is based on a presentation at the 2009 IADC Drilling HSE Europe Conference & Exhibition, 23-24 September, Amsterdam.