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Ensco working to redirect focus from STOP cards to conversations

Posted on 29 March 2011

Having critical intervention conversations – not filling out cards – is what produces better safety results, said Ensco’s John Karish.

Having critical intervention conversations – not filling out cards – is what produces better safety results, said Ensco’s John Karish.

A modified Safety Training Observation Program (STOP) being used at Ensco had led to a “frenzy to produce cards,” when the focus should have been on conversations, Ensco director SHE John Karish said during a presentation at the IADC Drilling HSE Asia Pacific 2011 Conference & Exhibition on 24 March in Singapore. Since the company adopted DuPont’s STOP in 1998, performance had come to be measured and rewarded based on the number of STOP cards produced, he said.

They ended up with quotas with a high number of cards, “but these cards did not ensure that crucial intervention conversations were being held. The focus was more on filling out the card than on the conversation,” Mr Karish said.

When Ensco’s corporate SHE audit team found that STOP was being applied inconsistently across the fleet, the company commissioned DuPont to assess the effectiveness of its STOP application. What they found was that “we had modified the program where it was no longer STOP,” he said.

So Ensco’s executive management decided to move on to a newer version of the program – STOP for Supervision (SFS). “They also decided that we’re going to implement STOP the way DuPont says it should be implemented, and that really plays into the theme of this conference, which is ‘Keeping It Simple – Back to Basics in Safety,’” Mr Karish said.

Now, the focus is no longer on writing cards but on fostering one-on-one conversations about the work in progress. “We do not write cards on all these ad-hoc casual conversations. The only time we write cards now is when we do a formal safety observation, which are documented using an observation checklist,” he said.

To facilitate the implementation of this program on rigs, two toolpushers on each rig received special training, and the cascade process started in early 2010 for all shore-based operations management and rig supervisors.

Then, in late 2010, DuPont was commissioned to conduct an anonymous survey of rig-based supervisors on the program. “We wanted to see how the implementation process was going, how the cascade process worked, and was it really making a difference? And what, if any, are the challenges that people have in implementing STOP the way DuPont says it should be implemented? … We were really very pleased with the results of the survey because it demonstrated that we were on the right track,” Mr Karish said.

One question from the survey was, “What are you doing differently as a result of STOP?” Results showed that responders’ behavior had changed as a result of STOP. Key examples are increased awareness of hazards, concentrating more on people than on tasks, spending more time talking with people, asking more questions and using STOP techniques.”

Another question was, “What changes, if any, have you seen in your employees’ attitudes toward safety since the SFS implementation?” The great majority of responses were changes such as: seeing that supervisors believe in the program; positivity; paying more attention to what they are doing; more willingness to talk openly; development of better safety leaders; and less fear.

Another aspect of the program was that, by using a web-based database, Ensco began capturing trend data from observation checklists, providing “the opportunity for the first time to really take a look at the data across the fleet,” Mr Karish commented.

He believes that STOP applied as DuPont recommends really does provide better results and the ability to change behavior. Whereas previous STOP cards had limited data, safety observation checklists can capture numerous observations per card. “This additional data that we’re now collecting allows better conclusions and better identification and management of issues. We feel that it is an improvement over the way that we were using STOP cards in the past.”

STOP is a trademark of DuPont.

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