Oil & Gas Offshore: Health and Safety, Cats and a lot of Chickens…

No, this post isn’t about health and safety in a petting Zoo. I was at a conference last week promoting HSE and process safety in the power generation industry and there was a turn of events that got me thinking about incidents in the offshore industry.

I’m talking organisation and I’m talking training.

It’s not that the conference wasn’t organised well (it was impeccably organised even if I do say so myself). It was the venue staff.

11:30 on Day 2 and the fire alarm goes off – it was all pre planned so no need to interrupt everyone’s mid morning coffee. But it kept ringing… and ringing… and ringing… Something had gone wrong with the test, and sure enough one of the hotel staff came to ask us to evacuate. And this is at a conference all about health and safety… oh the irony! So everyone followed the instructions given at the beginning of the day.

Walk quietly down the stairs to reception and follow the fire attendant out to the muster point at the back of the hotel.

Yeah right! This is a huge hotel, there were other conferences going on, plenty of guests to herd, not to mention the restaurant patrons! Oh and this is all happening on the streets of Central London. You have to feel a little sorry for the hotel staff; this task was akin to herding cats! True to form however, the HSE professionals made their way to the muster point to wait out the next 45 minutes. There were definite mutterings about how well (or not) the hotel managed this unexpected drill, not a great crowd to get this wrong in front of!

This whole incident got me thinking. Although a simple example there are two good points to be drawn from it. Organisation and training.

Well organised protocols will be the key to success in any in the case of an incident. Whether it’s having the paper work up to date, or organising personnel so they have ownership over a particular task (in this case the term headless chickens comes to mind).

And training? Well, it was only the HSE delegates that got themselves to the muster point – arguably the best trained people there! This got me thinking about the offshore environment. What if you are a contractor who has just come on board for the day? Or it’s your first day on the job? There needs to be an immediate recognition of the risks, can we honestly say this is always done, all of the time?

Things to think about as I start to put together February’s offshore safety conference! In the mean time maybe I should be setting up Hotel IQ…

Lucie Stoker

P.S. Oh, one last thing – we have just uploaded an interview with Gordon Macdonald of the HSE to our podcasts section. It was done before last weeks event but if you want to get an idea of what his presentation was about then click here to have a listen – ignore the first two minutes though – there were technical difficulties getting him on the line and I gave him a rather lengthy introduction!

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