Home / News / Goal Zero marks change in HSE mindset for Shell

 Most safety accident investigations scratch only at the surface and never dig deep enough to look at the root causes, said Graham Robinson, manager of Shell’s Global Zero Work site Hazard Project. But, at Shell, after an incident involving two fatalities on the Brent Bravo platform in 2003, the company decided it was time to take the investigation to the next level.

A management team of about 20-30 senior leaders, including Mr Robinson, was put together, and the group spent eight to 12 months conducting an investigation looking at the underlying causes of what happened on Brent Bravo.

Out of that investigation came Goal Zero,  and it has been the start of an enduring shift in mind set and behaviors about safety, Mr Robinson said during the keynote presentation on the opening day of the IADC Drilling HSE Europe Conference & Exhibition in Amsterdam on 9 September.

Goal Zero marks change in HSE mindset for Shell

Shell is always looking for ways to improve its safety performance, he noted. In 2007, the company had 30 fatalities. This means the company has cut its fatality rate by 50% since 1997.

“But is that enough? Is 30 OK?” Mr Robinson asked.

Senior management at Shell recognized that although safety performance was improving, it still wasn’t where they wanted to be. They realized that something different had to be done to turn things around.

This is where Goal Zero came in. Goal Zero recognized that fatalities and significant incidents are not a part of the business, and a target was set for the elimination of fatalities. On Safety Day in October 2007, Shell embraced Goal Zero as the start of a change in how it manages and thinks about safety. It would mean demonstrating that employees care about one another, and complying and intervening to ensure that nobody gets hurt.

Perhaps most importantly, Goal Zero had “the commitment of our senior leaders, and we really believe we can make a difference,” Mr Robinson noted.

As part of Goal Zero, a change programme aimed at regions was implemented, and visible recognition for exemplary safety performance and celebration of “zero days” were carried out. In addition, a zero tolerance policy was adopted for people who create conditions that endanger lives.

Shell also implemented global change programs focusing on what are called “Must Wins,” or key areas of exposure:

  • • Land transport. More than two-thirds of Shell’s incidents involve land transport. Journey management practices were reviewed and efforts were made to improve driver behavior.
  • • Work site hazards. Shell worked to provide visible and felt safety leadership at the frontline (supervisors and managers at work sites).
  • • Contractor HSE management. Over 90% of people who get hurt working for Shell are contractors, Mr Robinson said, so the company took a hard look at how it selects and manages its contractors.
  • • Asset integrity. Improving technical integrity and HSE Case compliance.

Discussing his particular area of focus within Goal Zero – work site hazards – Mr Robinson pointed out that he chose not to implement any new “Goal Zero” process. Shell already had in place many systems and processes to keep employees safe, as did contractors who worked for Shell. “We have everything we need. We just need to have the discipline and the will to use them. For me, Goal Zero isn’t about rolling out new processes. It’s about taking advantage and making use of processes we already have.”

Employees at work sites around the world were encouraged to ask themselves simple questions like: Am I using the safety tools available? Have they been applied? Are they really doing what I think they’re doing or intend for them to do?

Concluding his presentation, Mr Robinson highlighted the importance of good leadership in making any safety effort work. What is good leadership? Not by commanding that something be done, but by being curious about how work at the work site is being done – safely.

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