Creating a Culture of Safety
Achieving a culture of safety involves every department within an organization.
In the energy industry, getting every worker home safely at the end of a shift is of critical importance. Safety should be more than the focus of designated roles within an organization. A culture of safety should permeate all departments and all levels of a company.
Embracing worker safety strengthens employee loyalty and builds relationships between workers and management, increases productivity and attracts top talent, while reducing turnover. Safety professionals and operations personnel must work together to continuously improve their safety programs, leveraging policies and technologies to optimize safety and drive excellence.
“When workers get hurt, it is a sign that things aren’t going right,” says Dr. David Michaels, OSHA Assistant Secretary of Labor, who focuses on helping companies be “safe, productive, and profitable at the same time.” Safety is not a discrete issue for energy companies; it Is a key performance indicator of operational effectiveness.
What is a Strong Safety Culture?
How can you tell if your company operates with a strong safety culture? Ask the following questions:
- Does leadership provide strong influence and direction for your safety culture
- Are employees involved in the process? Are they engaged, supportive and invested in the safety program?
- Does your company embrace a culture of continuous improvement that regularly takes a critical look and evaluates how safety can be improved?
- Do you have a culture of accountability where staff look out for each other and hold each other accountable to keep everyone safe?
- Do you share best practices? Does your organization recognize that safety is not a competitive advantage but something we must work towards together?
- Is safety a focus ingrained in all departments in the company?
When an organization can say yes to these questions, a robust safety program is in place.
Safety Requires the Right People and the Right Tech
Achieving a culture of safety involves every department within an organization. Maintaining the highest levels of safety and efficiency is only possible by leveraging the right technology and data to inform smart decisions.
Partnering with a safety solution vendor that can supply the technology required to improve safety and serve as an advisor through implementation is key. From cloud-connected devices monitoring for safety incidents in real-time, to quantitative data and insights dashboards, a comprehensive safety solution reveals opportunities to take your organization to the next level.
This is the power of data: every team throughout an organization can use data from connected safety devices to improve safety and performance, increase efficiency and save costs. Here are some examples:
Safety and Industrial Hygiene
Safety and Industrial Hygiene (IH) teams are responsible for recognizing and managing workplace hazards and ensuring regulatory compliance throughout the organization. They need real-time awareness of safety and compliance data to measure performance against KPIs and ensure compliance with safety standards and regulations. They must communicate workplace hazards effectively with leadership by making data easy to understand. They need to empower workers with tools and information to help them make safer decisions.
Safety and IH teams can use connected data and insights from analytics dashboards to inform initiatives within an organization to reduce risk. For example, using connected gas monitoring devices, an organization may implement a procedure requiring that after opening a vessel, employees walk away for 30 minutes before completing the job to avoid being exposed to nitrogen.
Emergency management teams must be equipped to effectively respond to incidents and facilitate swift evacuations. To do this, emergency response teams need gas detection hardware, along with the software, data and communication capabilities to access real-time information about the incident and enable rapid decision-making.
On the hardware side, a comprehensive safety solution includes both area monitors and portable gas detectors for each responder at risk.
While portable gas detection equipment on its own protects the individual or the few within the area of detection, the ability to make data-driven decisions protects the larger collective. Gas detection hardware can generate a massive amount of data about a hazmat incident that is valuable—but only useful if that data can be accessed and analyzed in real-time to drive decisions.
To achieve this, rapidly deploying area monitors and connecting personal gas detectors is critical. Then, the software solution must make the right data available to the right people at the right time. These capabilities support an effective emergency response while protecting the safety of the response team.
IT / Digital Transformation
IT and digital transformation teams need technology solutions that make worksites safer without costly and time-consuming IT infrastructure changes. Many safety solutions require setting up MESH networks or ensuring a strong Wi-Fi signal throughout the facility, which can be a major challenge and add significant cost to deployment and maintenance. MESH networks also often limit the total number of devices that can be connected to the network at the same time, making it a poor option for maintaining connectivity.
Other connected safety devices automatically connect to the cloud with 3G/4G cellular connectivity or satellite. Satellite connectivity is especially critical for workers that visit job sites in remote areas where a cellular connection is limited. Equipped with personal monitoring devices that connect from anywhere in the world means every worker can be safe. Automatic connectivity saves IT deployment time upfront by making it easy to get devices online quickly, and it reduces time spent troubleshooting connection issues.
IT teams are concerned about the maintenance of dashboarding and data insights tools. Look for vendors who with no software to install, and no updates required, with updates completed automatically over the air every time a firmware update is released - so that teams can seamlessly control their own safety.
For energy companies, safety needs to be an integral part of a company’s DNA. Compliance alone is no longer sufficient. Safety is more than meeting the bare minimum and checking off the required boxes. Instead, leaders need to instill the importance of safety in decision-making throughout the organization. Every department must be involved in driving safety forward and finding new opportunities to bolster a safety ecosystem that gives workers confidence when they report to a job.
Safety is one of the most valuable cases for industrial digital transformation; by using data and connecting their workforce, companies can increase operational excellence. It Is important to partner with a safety solution vendor that supports your safety-driven focus, helps you mitigate risk and acts as a consultant to usher in needed change to be a safety leader.
This article originally appeared in the February 1, 2022 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.