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How To Hold Oil Workers Accountable for Personal Protective Equipment

Written by Clint Mooney on March 29, 2018

A dramatic study showed the positive impact of high safety standards. In a study of 420 industrial managers, those who ranked in the top 20% for focusing on safety also ranked in the top 20% for productivity, quality, efficiency and employee satisfaction. Accountability had a powerful effect that cascaded across organizations.

Unfortunately, accountability often gets pushback within the oil industry. Some consider it a “dirty word” because it implies placing blame, but it’s the key to minimizing hazards that cause damage and injury.

Nowhere is this more obvious than on the topic of personal protective equipment (PPE). Statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) show that only 16% of workers were wearing hard hats when a head injury occurred. Only 1% of workers with facial damage had a face guard in place. In most cases, the proper PPE was available to them; they just didn’t use it.

 

The Challenge of Accountability

Why is it sometimes so difficult to enforce the use of PPE? It’s because of the difference between theory and reality. In theory, they should wear PPE at all proper times. In reality, there are numerous disincentives to use it that result in finger-pointing and lack of accountability.


Barriers to PPE use include:

  • Time pressure. “There wasn’t time to put a face guard on.”
  • Unknown periods. “It’s hard to tell when the overhead tanks are active.”
  • Location confusion. “Is this a hard hat area?”
  • Solution-seeking removal. “I had to take off my gloves to clear the clog.”
  • Minimizing risk. “I’ve never worn safety boots and I’ve always been fine.”
  • Hassle perception. “The face guards are a pain to wear.”
  • Missing PPE. “There were no hard hats around.”

To overcome these obstacles, an oil company must reshape company culture to put safety first. Proper PPE must be provided in every zone that needs it. Rather than pressuring workers to ignore safety hazards and hit time deadlines, ample time should be given to use PPE.

 

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Using the Power of Reporting

Part of safety-first culture is empowering workers to report safety hazards and violations they see during the day. They should feel that reporting is a part of the culture, and that top management embraces their safety concerns. It’s a good idea for companies to offer rewards for safety reporting and compliance.

How exactly should they report violations? Traditionally, workers would simply mention it to a manager out loud. For decades, many companies used a card system where a worker would fill out a card, give it to their manager, and the hazard report would wind its way through a cumbersome safety process.

But old-fashioned methods come with serious limitations, like long delays, misunderstandings, and reluctance to be labeled a tattletale about worksite issues. To overcome these obstacles, many companies are turning to software solutions.

For example, Zeteky’s FirstHand app encourages anonymous reporting and allows any worker to submit a safety concern electronically. Reports reach management quickly and can be delegated to safety specialists for fast resolution.

 

Real-World Accountability

Oil industry workers tend to welcome digital safety reporting apps because the software makes their job easier. It’s convenient - usable right from a cell phone - and takes only minutes or seconds to make a report.

In a typical scenario, an oil derrick worker in a hard hat area might notice that several people aren’t wearing hard hats. This is a big deal, due to the risk posed by moving overhead objects. Using the app, the worker can anonymously upload an alert with geocoded (location-specific) information that shows where the issue is occuring. Within minutes, a safety specialist can be on hand to address the issue.

In day-to-day operations, this sets the stage for easy reporting about small things that cause big issues: missing and worn PPE, broken safety guards, damaged lines, rusty tanks, clogged pipes, malfunctioning equipment, and much more. The company can be proactive about preventing safety hazards before they become catastrophes.

Along the way, data is gathered by the software, which tracks ongoing issues and provides helpful reports for future decision-making. FirstHand uses a dashboard to allow management to see safety trends for each operation, plus the entire company around the world.

Request a demo of FirstHand by Zeteky, see it in action, and find out how it can increase accountability at your operation.

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