Last year forced everyone to focus on personal safety in a way we could never have expected. The three-word message of hands, face, space has led to us washing our hands regularly, wearing face coverings and observing social distancing wherever possible.
It can take time to learn new routines, but a positive outcome from 2020 may well be improved awareness of how our actions can affect all those around us, in both health and safety.
As we continue our efforts to empower the workforce to help make the energy sector the safest place to work by preventing predictable incidents, 2021 will see Step Change in Safety focus on a different safety theme each quarter.
The four topics being explored in the coming year are: life saving rules, safe lifting operations and preventing falling objects, major accident hazard understanding and personal responsibility for safety.
Until the end of March, attention will be centred on nine life saving rules. They are not intended to address all the risks and hazards that exist in the oil and gas industry, instead they focus on the things an individual has control over.
Each rule has a set of minimum requirements that must be adhered to, not just to ensure the task itself is undertaken safely, but to also keep others safe. The nine rules are: bypassing safety controls, confined space, driving, energy isolation, hot work, line of fire, safe mechanical lifting, work authorisation and working at height.
Two key messages form part of all these rules. The first is that work does not start until everyone is aware of the life saving rules and can confirm that they can be followed. The second is a reminder that each individual is authorised to intervene or stop work if they are in any doubt about the safety of an activity or that the rules cannot be followed.
The first resources were added to the annual themes section of the Step Change in Safety website in December, with additional materials being released in the coming weeks.
A central element in explaining the nine rules is a series of short animated films developed by the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers.
Supporting these films are short podcasts from people working in different roles across the oil and gas industry, each providing background on a different rule and their personal perspective on it. Resources produced by Step Change in Safety that have relevance to each rule are also highlighted alongside safety alerts and moments that have been curated by the organisation.
Safety alerts and moments are learning resources that have been designed to help improve workplace safety. Each alert or moment is based on a real incident or near miss, with contributions remaining anonymous to encourage industry-wide sharing and learning. They provide good practice and guidance to prevent similar issues.
Improving safety is the responsibility of everyone – from those in the boardroom to those at a worksite. Regardless of what name or icon they are given, these nine rules are relevant and applicable for the entire industry. They are also effective in protecting individuals and their colleagues from work-related injuries.
It was noted by OGUK in its Health, Safety and Environment Report 2020 that the number of incidents in the workplace with the potential to cause significant injury is decreasing.
There is still work to be done and everyone in the industry has a part to play. Join us in 2021 as we continue to shine a spotlight on safety.