“Nobody gets hurt” is ExxonMobil’s motto on employee safety. Called “a journey towards hurt free,” Mike Smith, global drilling safety and health manager, emphasized the importance of maintaining this mentality from “the CEO to the rig floor” at the IADC Health, Safety, Environment & Training Conference on 27 January in Houston.
“We’re all on a journey, we’re all on the same journey. The oil and gas industry has made remarkable strides in safety over the last decade. We continue to make great improvements, we all want to get to the place where we have injury-free workplace,” Mr Smith said.
ExxonMobil’s vision, emerging in 2000 with the adoption of “nobody gets hurt,” does not just focus on numbers but on creating a safety culture. Mr Smith said, “(The message primarily is) in order to achieve an injury-free work place, (which) starts by caring about people, you have to care about people.”
In 2004, when ExxonMobil addressed the major issues facing safety on their rigs, they noticed a gap between lost-time incidents, restricted work incidents, medical treatment incidents, first-aid incidents, and safety near-misses and safe acts/unsafe conditions. The company has tracked the improvements of the “nobody gets hurt” program over the last four years.
In 2004, ExxonMobil recorded 593 injuries, declining to 262 injuries in 2009. Mr Smith stressed that if a rig can have one hurt-free day, they can have another. The company measures progress by “hurt-free metrics,” which is the number of hurt incidents, the rate that hurt incidents occur, and the severity of hurt incidents that occur.
Mr Smith said that this journey to hurt-free days is “a relentless pursuit, not a singular destination” and encourages rig managers not to be discouraged by breaks in extended hurt-free periods. “You should not overreact when a setback occurs. There are going to be good days and bad days. You will have milestones and record-free stretches that are going to end because someone got hurt. Don’t react to those negative setbacks. Remember, it’s a journey.”
A desire to change their approach to safety helped ExxonMobil overcome the “administrative” viewpoint. Mr Smith explained his company’s goal to move away from injury statistics on the rig and focus on the people. The most difficult aspect that ExxonMobil faced while implementing its program was educating employees and getting them to believe in the vision.
“As organizations and safety leaders, when we have a safety vision like this, we have to be aligned with the vision, understand what the vision is, and that vision has to be believable; safety leaders have to be personally and passionate and committed to the vision, and be able to promote that to the work force,” Mr Smith said.
Gaining the trust of the work force that a company is looking after them is also key in making “hurt free” successful. “To gain support from the work force, we must ensure they understand from our actions, not just our words, that we care about each individual and are committed to achieving hurt free,” he said.
ExxonMobil supports the promotion of hurt free to the work force by documenting hurt-free days on the rig’s daily report and the daily summary to management; recognizing hurt-free milestones and discussing progress at reviews with senior leadership. The company recognizes in its weekly newsletter its rigs that have made it 100 days hurt free. ITAG Rig 30, which successfully maintained 808 hurt-free days, received an “unprecedented achievement” award for their dedication to ExxonMobil’s vision.
“It’s not about the stretches; it’s about caring for the individuals, a reporting culture where we can go in and analyze those injuries and prevent future hurt.”