Safety has always been, and will always remain, paramount to the global oil&gas industry.
In these times of cost reduction and cash optimisation, the need to secure the long-term future of an organisation can necessitate some tough decisions in terms of the commitment towards staff training, research and development, and auxiliary spending. However, the hard fact is that our industry operates in some of the most dangerous environments in the world and, while improvements in technology, workforce involvement, infrastructure care and rig operations have led to reductions in injuries and incidents, it is recognised that more still needs to be done if the industry is to achieve its vision of making the UK the safest place to work in the worldwide oil&gas sector.
A key component in driving forward this ambition has been the creation of the Minimum Industry Safety Training (MIST) programme for the UK’s 30,000-strong existing offshore workforce and those entering the industry for the first time.
Until now, basic safety training has been carried out to different depths of understanding and across varying safety elements, creating a lack of consistency across the industry. In 2007, the Boots on for Safety campaign identified basic safety knowledge and awareness as a key concern throughout the British offshore sector.
Taking that core issue and working in partnership, Step Change in Safety and OPITO – The Oil & Gas Academy developed a new standard aimed at ensuring that all personnel are skilled in recognising and avoiding risk by applying best-practice training at a consistent level across industry in safety-critical areas. Launched last month, MIST covers nine basic safety elements ranging from an introduction to the hazardous offshore environment, safety observation systems and risk assessment through to platform integrity, working at height, mechanical lifting and control of hazardous substances.
Training is tailored to suit employees of all abilities and experience, providing them with an appreciation of the potential hazards and controls that might be encountered offshore. Each unit has been designed to focus delegates’ attention on their personal responsibility for safety, thus influencing their behaviour and attitude towards their co-workers, the installation and the environment.
Flexibility is a must in our industry, so organisations can choose from using approved training providers or offer their own in-house approved programme.
This new approach to basic safety training minimises duplicated and repetitive safety training, saving the industry time and money while guaranteeing a standardised level of competence in the field, where employees from dozens of different companies must work together in sometimes tough and demanding situations where there is no margin for error.
The launch of the MIST programme is a clear signal of the ongoing importance that our industry places on the health, safety and wellbeing of its workforce. Adopting common standards and engaging the essential support to apply them uniformly across industry is a challenge, but there is a real prize out there as training people consistently will bring significant safety improvements.
The programme to help make our industry the safest in the global oil&gas sector is there. Now it’s up to each individual company to embrace the standards and ensure not just the safety and efficiency of their employees, but of the UK industry as a whole.
David Doig is CEO of OPITO – The Oil & Gas Academy