By Ron Blize and Raquel Gorniak, Weatherford International
Motor vehicle incidents are the most common cause of death and serious injury for the oil and gas industry, mainly due to a high level of exposure. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that road fatalities will continue to rise, especially in developing countries. This prediction is of particular concern to oil and gas companies conducting business in those areas. Combined with inclement weather conditions, poor infrastructure and an influx of new workers, the WHO forecast has made driver safety an industry priority.
In November 2005, an investigation into a driving incident in Canada prompted Weatherford International’s management and quality, health, safety, security and environmental (QHSSE) department to identify ways to change driver behavior. An action plan was developed, culminating in the formation of an internal journey management team (JMT) to spearhead an initiative focused on tracking and monitoring the behavior of employees who drive company vehicles.
A database tracking system was combined with driving behavior monitors. The tracking and monitoring system included satellite and cellular communications protocols so drivers could be tracked traveling through metropolitan and remote areas of Canada. The ability to track each trip has significantly changed the company’s driving culture and produced quantifiable benefits. Between 2005 and 2007, Canadian operations achieved a 400% reduction in their total vehicle incident rate (TVIR).
In 2008, the US drilling services operations started the process of attempting to repeat Canada’s success. In Q1 2009, the “Driving Monitor” program was added to a pilot group in Houston. A total of 70 vehicle monitors were installed to accommodate all field vehicles that were included in the pilot project.
The monitors offer the same functionality as the monitors used in Canada, providing detailed measurements of four key behaviors: speed, braking, acceleration and seat-belt use. Braking and acceleration are further broken down into two categories – harsh and extreme. Each time the driver breaks a rule or carries out an unacceptable behavior, the driver is notified by the monitor, and the infraction is recorded in the database. The data are compiled into monthly statistical reports, which are reviewed by management and the affected employees. In addition, the monitoring system has a driver panic switch for immediate notification of an emergency situation.
Monthly reports are generated for operation and product line managers to assess employee performance. The report contains the percentage breakdown of drivers in the red (high risk), yellow (medium risk) and green (low risk) categories (Figure 1). In addition, the report contains a breakdown of the total number of infractions (Figure 2), as well as a history of the driver’s performance year to date. Using this information, managers can quickly focus on individuals that need to improve their driving and take appropriate action by coaching them on behaviors.
To date, the program has shown success in terms of leading and lagging indicators. TVIR has reduced slightly, but of significant note is the sharp reduction in the recordable vehicle incident rate (RVIR) and TVIR (at fault). The RVIR has decreased from 0.97 in 2008 to 0 in 2009, and the at-fault TVIR has decreased from a high of 3.18 in 2007 to 1.06 for 2009 year to date. Most important is the increasing trend of drivers in the green category and the decreasing trend of drivers in the yellow and red categories.
The success of this program helps protect the company’s most valued asset – people. The program has also had a significant impact on the company’s ability to make more efficient use of time and resources, for both the service company and its clients. Everyone wins when there is a reduction in costs associated with increased driver safety.
Future plans for the program include the distribution of additional monitors to other locations in the United States. The company is also working with its Canadian QHSSE and operations to incorporate several driver monitoring systems into a single journey management system, as well as a single reporting location.