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Addressing workplace safety from the ground up

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article image Hydratight provides comprehensive and externally accredited training in all areas of bolted joint integrity, on-site machining, and associated joint integrity management activities.

Global joint integrity specialist Hydratight takes workplace safety very seriously and has introduced several initiatives to implement safe work practices internally as well as across all the industries served by the company.

Hydratight Asia-Pacific Regional Leader Dean Jenkins explains that maintaining a strong safety record is a challenge facing many industry operators today and one that must increasingly be addressed by resource and energy companies of all sizes, especially since the tragic events in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and the vast cost, both to human life and to the environment that resulted from it.

Governments around the world have embarked upon major reviews, investigations and discussions to strengthen legislation governing safety.

Regardless of major disaster or legislation, smaller but still costly and damaging cases of neglect and error occur all too often throughout industry every week. It is these day-to-day events that can be addressed by developing the correct safety culture throughout the organisation.

As a company, Hydratight puts safety and integrity in any job ahead of profit and expediency. Believing that there is only one way to do a job, and that is the right way, the company has, in the past preferred not to quote for work where safe operation might be compromised.

It is partly for this reason that Hydratight's adherence to safety-in-work principles is being extended to clients, and to outside bodies inducting newcomers to industries served by the company, including oil and gas, mining and energy and industrial.

With safety as the primary objective, the company extends its accredited, internationally-recognised training courses, helping to create a growing core of well-trained, safe-working technicians, taught by some of the industry's most experienced engineers from Hydratight operating around the world. Knowledge and expertise are thus passed on to colleagues and trainees on day-to-day projects.

Unlike some companies that think safe working practices can be fostered by offering rules and guidelines reinforced by annual or monthly award schemes, or even financial prizes, Hydratight believes safe working within the client industries call for more than just awards or prize systems; the philosophy of safety is built into the Hydratight DNA. However, Hydratight has no hesitation in praising members of the team responsible for successful projects. In-house awards, which reward positive feedback from clients and fellow workers, have been instituted to encourage the highest standards from Hydratight service engineers in the field.

Hydratight has introduced several initiatives to illustrate the immense value it places on continuous personal development and safety at all levels. Among these are mentoring initiatives; global learning days, in which every member of staff in over 30 countries is encouraged to undertake an extra-curricular training session; and performance management.

Building safety systems into everyday operations need not be very costly, but it does require an organisation to take them seriously, to take ownership of safety matters and protect them against the lethargy, cost-cutting and negligence that weaken them and expose the company to greater danger, injury and damaging investigation and litigation.

Awareness is an important facet of safety on site - everyone with an influence on safety, whether managers, site supervisors, team leaders or individual colleagues, should be aware of the safety system through publications, meetings, regular briefings and continual reinforcement of the message. It takes only one person to operate dangerously, but many to deal with the consequences.

Management tools to permit the system's implementation such as risk assessment, competence management, practice controls, records and data management all have a significant role to play.

Best practice needs to be adopted everywhere, with procedures specific to each operation. There needs to be a plan for proper procedure and inspection, and all the data needed by trained personnel to do their job properly needs to be available on demand, not locked away in someone’s office.

In the best implementations, where training and skills are given a high significance, management also needs a way to know which personnel are able to undertake specific tasks. Hydratight wouldn't allow a relatively new recruit to work on a high-pressure, high-temperature line that carries lethal chemicals, for example, so managers need to know exactly who is capable of doing what, and what stage of training has been reached by each technician. Only when this information is fully recorded and available can a definitive team be put together to carry out any job.

All Hydratight personnel are encouraged to report unsafe work practices, and all incident reports are overseen by the head of the company. A senior committee under his guidance then monitors every incident reported, and may make recommendations that are relayed to each of Hydratight's 30 global outlets, ensuring the same factors cannot result in a similar problem elsewhere. Such incidents also inform the development of constantly-reviewed in-house safety policies. A dedicated section of the company intranet distributes safety bulletins globally, as does a special newsletter for each region of operations.

Dean Jenkins says the safety initiatives do not take up a lot of management time since they become part of the rhythm of the business over time. Consequently, Hydratight’s reported incidents in recent years have fallen to an all-time low and the company is now aiming for Target Zero.

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