Since shifting to a hands-free culture and instituting a divisional impact-resistant glove procedure in Transocean’s Far East operations, there have been 21 months without hand and finger lost-time incidents, Mike Merritt, Transocean QHSE manager for Far East and Australia, said at the IADC Health, Safety, Environment and Training Conference in Houston last week.
“Traditional methods of manual handling using direct bodily contact are archaic, high-risk and frankly unnecessary. The alternative indirect methods or hands-free methods are inexpensive, safer, efficient and definitely worth the effort,” Mr Merritt said. His presentation went on to describe the differences between a hands-free vs hands-on safety culture and the impact of a hands-free culture.
“The real success of this effort is that there were zero manual handling fatalities in 2010,” he said. “There is no area of the rig that is now exempt.”
The traditional hands-on culture is strong and has a long legacy, and the amount of resistance to the change to a hands-free environment was quite surprising, Mr Merritt said, especially in light of the fatalities that had occurred in the past. The drivers behind the hands-on culture include: a coal face education (one that considers value as equal to effort); team work (the expectation for each member to carry his/her load); a “that’s the way it’s always been done” mentality; inexperience; competition to stand out; unrecognized energy from slow moving heavy loads; boredom and a sense of machismo.
So how does a company change this hands-on mindset to a hands-free culture? According to Mr Merritt, a seven-step process should be adopted.
The process involves re-education, in which a reason for change is provided; leadership, which uses reasonable measures to maintain a hands-free environment; building a belief culture in which people are empowered and to gain ownership of the concept; providing alternative tools such as poles and taglines; training using techniques such as visualization and rehearsals; holding safety conversations, and removing the naysayers once the tipping point is achieved.
“Safety conversations are probably the most valuable tool,” Mr Merritt said.